A tramping trip months in the planning turned into an adventure for a Kawerau woman who was in a hut that was hit by a landslide in Fiordland.
Ryleigh Hayes and her rugby teammate Grace Houpapa teamed up with Hayes' flatmate Joshua Sasa-Potoi to celebrate Sasa-Potoi's 50th birthday by walking the Routeburn track.
On Friday the trio flew to Queenstown before starting their hike at Glenorchy on Saturday morning in, according to Hayes, sunshine.
"On Saturday night we were at the Routeburn Falls Hut and the rain started coming down," Hayes said.
"There was also heaps of wind but we just thought it must be typical Fiordland weather."
On Saturday the trio set out again despite "a little bit of rain".
"The ranger told us it was okay to pass through so we did that, leaving the Routeburn Falls Hut, crossing over to Fiordland, passed the Harris Saddle and to the Lake Mackenzie Hut. The weather was definitely wet although not too bad but it got worse as the night progressed.
"We woke up the next day and the ranger was like 'there's a bit of rain, forecast is for more rain coming in'. He told us it was typical Fiordland weather and if it was flooded near the Earland Falls to use the detour track.
"We were like 'sweet' but when we got to the falls the detour was also flooded. By that time we had met up with another five people - we called ourselves the legendary eight as we were the first to get through the falls that day."
Believing there couldn't be much more to contend with, the eight began to make their way to the Lake Howden Hut but were stopped by a landslide that had come down earlier.
"We'd gone so far into the hike we really didn't have any other choice but to, as a team, keep going forward, so we walked through and around the landslide."
Reaching the Lake Howden Hut, Hayes said they had decided to keep walking to The Divide Shelter as that was the end of the hike but their ranger told them the roads had been closed and no one would be able to collect them from there.
"So 32 of us were holed up at the hut.
"We stayed up pretty late playing games and passing the time but eventually went to bed. At about 1.30am, and in complete darkness, a landslide came down and hit our hut."
Hayes said the impact shook the entire hut and caused bunks to collapse.
"I looked down and saw mud everywhere. A few of the guys were wrestling with one of the bunks and I saw a person underneath rubble. I grabbed her arm and ripped her out.
"There was timber with nails sticking out all over the place."
Hayes said the ranger was awesome, remaining calm and instructing everyone to put on their wet weather gear in case they had to move out.
"Two people had minor injuries but we had two doctors in the crew of 32 and also a PhD in civil engineering who specialised in hazards who assured us we were in the safest place [the hut].
"It was pretty freaky, mainly because the rain was still really heavy, the wind was howling and it was pitch black other than the light of our headlamps."
The 32 held tight and were eventually choppered out to The Shelter at 9am this morning before being bussed to Te Anau. Hayes and her two friends were the last to be taken from the hut.
"It's been an adventure but I'll be back for sure," Hayes said.
A state of emergency was declared in the area on Sunday as the heavy rain and slips trapped tourists on tracks and roads and closed State Highway 94, the only route to the Milford Sound.
Evacuations in other parts of Fiordland are still under way with several tramping groups safely on the ground in Te Anau at a Civil Defence centre.
But hundreds more people remain trapped in Milford Sound. They will remain trapped until at least tomorrow because of the ongoing weather chaos.