A personal GPS locator beacon helped police and a helicopter crew quickly find an 18-year-old tramper lost in the Tongariro National Park.
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The teenager, who had been holidaying in New Zealand for four months, set out at 6.30 am yesterday to hike the 43km Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Taupō police Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said the tramper hiked from Whakapapa Village to Mangatepopo, over Red Crater and into the Oturere Valley – but then got lost.
"He missed the Oturere Hut and could not find the track again amongst the rocky landscape," he said.
Shepherd said early afternoon, the man activated his inReach SOS beacon, triggering an alert at the International Emergency Rescue Coordination Centre in Texas.
The information was then passed to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre of New Zealand which then passed to Taupō police.
"The rescue crew found the man relatively easily, despite him blending well with his surroundings, thanks to the GPS location received from his beacon," Shepherd said.
"Despite being very thirsty – he guzzled a bottle of water the rescuers gave him – he was in good shape. He was flown back to the start of the track, near the Chateau."
It showed the importance of carrying a personal locator beacon when tramping, he said.
"Because this young man had activated a beacon, we knew exactly where he was and were able to reach him quickly and easily, Shepherd said.
"If you become lost or injured, and you are not exactly sure where you are, this can mean precious time is wasted which puts your safety at risk."
Following the rescue of the Belgian man, the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter crew then went to Emerald Lakes to uplift an injured Macau woman, who was flown to Taupō Hospital.
Immediately prior to the Belgian man's rescue, the helicopter had rescued an injured American woman from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, who was taken to Rotorua Hospital.