A woman was spared a night in the bush and pouring rain when she was rescued after a flooded river trapped her on a popular Northland walking track.

Police Search and Rescue staff along with a team of volunteers from the Far North Land Search and Rescue team managed to locate the 21-year-old woman on the Wairakau Stream Track that leads to the Duke's Nose overlooking Whangaroa Harbour, about 7.15pm last night.

Incident controller Detective Ryan Cooper said police were alerted about 3pm after only one of two women had made it back from walking the track.

The women, both students at Auckland University, had headed to the Lane Cove Hut about 10am as part of their training for an adventure race.

The Wairakau Stream Track starts at Totara North, by the Whangaroa Harbour.
The Wairakau Stream Track starts at Totara North, by the Whangaroa Harbour.

Weather conditions were rough and MetService had issued a weather warning for Northland the previous night, forecasting heavy rainfalls between 6am and 6pm with localised downpours measuring between 25 and 35mm/hr for Thursday.

The alarm was raised about 3pm yesterday when one of the duo made it out to the start of the track and called for help.

Cooper said the women had trekked to the hut but on their return trip the river had become flooded.

Only one of the women was confident enough to cross the rapidly flowing river, while the second was stranded on the other side.

She activated an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), as there was no cellphone coverage on the tack, and did not move from that location.

The Rescue Coordination Centre received the alert and contacted Northland police to give them the coordinates of the stranded woman.

Totara North's Wairakau Stream Track.
Totara North's Wairakau Stream Track.

Cooper said easiest way to access the woman was by taking the rescue crews on the Whangarea Coastguard boat and dropping them at the hut so they could walk the track to the river.

"She was extremely happy to see us ... she was really cold and couldn't have spent much longer out there or she would have got hypothermia," Cooper said.


After being given warm clothing the woman was walked out to the hut and waiting coastguard boat and delivered to Whangaroa where her father was waiting.
Cooper said once stranded the woman had done the right thing.

However, the incident highlighted the need to heed rain warnings, wear appropriate clothing and carry food and water.

On its website the Department of Conservation said Lane Cove Hut, 5.6km one way, was a track for experienced trampers and describes how the track first climbs over a saddle to an old farm road and then descends through regenerating forest to Wairakau Stream, ending at the hut.

The track was wide, steep and clay-based so special care during or after rain was needed.

After about 20 minutes walk, you will find a sign showing the way to the Wairakau Stream.

"Once at the stream you will have to either remove your footwear and go barefoot, or wade the two crossings to the grass flats on the other side. Continue over the rocky terrain and keep an eye out for the 'disappearing' waterfalls that come and go depending on recent rainfall," Doc said.