Far North Search & Rescue Inc.

Professional Volunteer Search Team Serving the Far North of New Zealand

– Other Land SAR News in NZ

Safety tags to track our vulnerable

July 24, 2012 9:12

Electronic tags worn as a watch or pendant could help save the lives of vulnerable Northlanders who wander from home and become lost, sparking extensive search and rescue operations.

The Wandatrack tracking system has been developed to trace the movements of people living with dementia, autism, or a brain injury and who tend to wander and are unable to find their way home.

It is a system not too different from that used to track kiwi in the bush.

Now the Northland Land Search and Rescue group want to utilise the technology to find lost people faster, reducing the risk of injury or death, and the stress and anxiety for family members.

It would also reduce the number of people needed to carry out sometimes lengthy searches.

The programme is being backed by Northland police and public funding is being sought to buy then distribute the system across Northland.

The water resistant pendant emits a pulse specific to that pendant, which is detected using a Radio Tracking Unit and a Directional Finding Aerial. As the tracking unit gets closer to the pendant, the stronger the pulse will be heard.

Whangarei man Chris Browne knows only too well the anxiety caused when loved ones go missing and is backing the introduction of the new technology. His partner Ange, who has Alzheimers, has sparked a number of searches.

On one occasion she walked over 8km before she was found.

“Anything that helps find a person faster and diminish the anxiety for carers is a good thing. It’s the carers who suffer. They get in a hell of a sweat.”

Head of Northland police search and rescue squad Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe was sure the system would save lives.

He said by the time police were contacted the lost person could have been on the move for a few hours.

He encouraged people to raise the alarm immediately as trained dogs could track as soon as possible.

“This device will enable us to find people faster and reduce the risk of injury or fatality. It will save lives and money.”

A recent search for a 92-year-old man who wandered off from hospital resulted in 40 people searching for him for four hours before he was discovered up a tree, 1.5km away.

Mr Metcalfe said if the man had been wearing a pendant it would have taken two search members about 15 minutes to locate him.

Kerry Sinclair, president of the Far North search and rescue group, said the pendants could be sewn into clothing as well and if that was removed at least there was a starting point.

The programme is not government funded and the group is relying on donations to get the technology and then distribute it to those who need them.

With funding it hoped two tracking devices would be held by police, one in Kerikeri and the other in Whangarei, with a number of pendants being distributed to individuals and places such as rest homes across Northland.

Each pendant has a unique code and frequency which is logged on the police computer system.

For more information contact the team on northlandwandatrak@hotmail.co.nz
-Northern Advocate

Search and Rescue launch $5,000 dementia drive

Monday, 23 January 2012, 1:20 pm
Press Release: Search and Rescue Council

23 January 2012

Rotary donation kicks off appeal

The Rotary Club of Kerikeri has come to the aid of Far North Search and Rescue (FNSAR) with a donation of $1,000 towards specialist tracking equipment to help locate missing dementia sufferers.

The donation is the first step towards raising the $5,000 the group needs to buy 10 WandaTrak transmitters and a receiver to help locate missing dementia sufferers in the region. Ongoing maintenance costs are expected be in the region of $1,000 a year.

FNSAR President Ian Ruddell thanked the Rotary Club of Kerikeri and asked other organisations which might be prepared to help, to make contact.

“Assuming we’re able to fund this project fully we’ll be one of just a few LandSAR groups with this type of search capability. It would be of immense benefit to the carers of those with dementia in this region.”

FNSAR’s decision to buy the equipment was announced in June last year. Shortly afterwards the Rotary Club of Kerikeri invited two FNSAR members, secretary Marilyn Buckley and radio-tracking expert Grant Adams, to make a presentation about the technology and how it would be used.

WandaTrak helps rescuers locate dementia or autism patients who have wandered away from their homes or caregivers. They’re usually extremely difficult to find due to the unpredictability of their behaviour.

Known wanderers are given pendants or watches that emit pulses on specific frequencies. These can be detected with a radio tracking unit and a direction-finding aerial. The closer the pendant or watch emitting the target pulse, the stronger the signal.

An increase in searches for wandering dementia patients in towns and cities saw the number of land search and rescue callouts last year rise by 38% over the previous year alone, according to statistics issued by Land Search and Rescue New Zealand (LandSAR).

“We’re thrilled to be able to help FNSAR buy this valuable equipment,” said Sherryl Neale, President of the Rotary Club of Kerikeri. “At the end of the day it was the people of Kerikeri who provided the funds. They’re the enablers. We’re simply the collectors and the distributors.”

Tramper Survives 2 Nights in Flooded Bush

08 February, 2011

An elderly Auckland man survived a Fiordland flood by sitting on a rock for almost two days as water lapped around him.

Life-long tramper David Guise, 72, was recuperating in a private Te Anau residence last night, after being winched to safety about 10am yesterday.
Mr Guise was walking solo through the Cameron Mountains area, southwest of Te Anau – a tramp that would have taken about eight days.

But as a flash flood threatened to engulf him and his equipment, he managed to scramble to a 1m x 2m rock, surviving on rainwater and chocolate while trying to fix a broken beacon with his bare hands.

On Saturday night, at 6pm, he set up his bivvy about 40m from a small stream to sit out the two days of heavy rain he knew, via his satellite phone, was forecast. About two hours later, he felt water lapping around his feet and realised his bivvy sack was afloat.

“I thought, get up and go, because there’ll be more water coming than that.

“It was just black. I couldn’t see anything. I grabbed what was left of my stuff and my pack, one boot and my bivvy sack and scrambled up.”

Mr Guise said the water rose 1m in the time it took him to prepare to leave.

He walked through above-knee-high water to where he knew a large tree was and where he hoped the water was shallower, about 10m away. “I stood there from about 10pm to 10am in the dark, with the water slowly inching up.”

Mr Guise said he attempted to contact his wife by his sat-phone, but could not get reception. He had left his GPS device and provisions behind and began to feel he was in “deep trouble”.

When the water started to rise again on Sunday morning, Mr Guise headed for what looked like solid ground, 20m away. He tested the water to see how deep it was, plunged in and could not feel the ground with his feet.

“The water in the forest was about 20m deep. I had never seen anything like this. I was swimming through a bloody forest.”

Mr Guise swam to a another rock 40m away and used his bivvy and bag to stay afloat. He dragged himself up the 1m wide by 2m long rock, which had become an island on the edge of the forest.

Mr Guise wedged himself in on the surface, so he would not fall in the water in his sleep. He used his thumbnails to get into the broken beacon he had kept and eventually fixed it. Southern Lakes Helicopters were activated by the Southern Rescue Centre, about 9.30am.

The beacon alert took a three-man crew in a helicopter to a tributary off the Longburn River and rescued him.

Search Will Continue For Missing Man

07 February, 2011

The search of the Clutha River for Paul Wilson (28) of Roxburgh is to continue towards the end of the week, as existing river levels make searching difficult.

Search and rescue staff and private searchers continued exploring the Clutha River and shoreline over the weekend with no success.

“The best conditions for searching are when the river is at a lower level. Given the large amount of rain that has fallen, the river is running high.
Contact Energy is working with Police to consider the possibility of lowering the river to minimum levels towards the end of the week,” said Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw who is leading the search effort.

Mr Wilson went missing last Wednesday around midday at the Talla Burn stream near Beaumont.

Detective Sergeant Shaw said the volume of water flowing through the river towards the end of the week would determine the direction and approach the search would take.

Injured Hunter airlifted out

07 February, 2011

An injured hunter stranded for three nights in Tararua State Forest Park, near Levin, has been evacuated by helicopter.

The 23-year-old Waikanae man injured his ankle on Friday afternoon but managed to make it to nearby Waitewaewae Hut, where he found a Welsh tourist.
The tourist walked out to Otaki Forks for help and came across a Land SAR team packing up after a Mountain Safety Council River Safety Course.

A helicopter was sent to evacuate the hunter but was forced to turn back due to bad weather and Search and Rescue personnel tramped in to the hut to render assistance.

Sergeant Noel Bigwood said the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was able to reach the man early today.

He was referred to his doctor for treatment.

Search for Missing Child

06 February, 2011

At about 7pm last night a four year old boy was noticed to be missing near the Otiria Marae. Moerewa. His family searched for several hours then alerted police. The Police search and rescue team were called to the scene. This morning at about 1130hrs, a commercial diver found the boy’s body in a pool beneath a small waterfall.

Search Continues Today For Missing Man

04 February, 2011

The search operation has continued today for Paul Wilson, the 28-year-old Roxburgh man who went missing on Wednesday (2 February) at the Talla Burn stream near Beaumont in Otago.

The search area has been widened to include the length of the Clutha River (approximately 80 kilometres) between Beaumount and Balclutha.

This morning, a helicopter conducted a four-hour aerial search of the Clutha River and the Talla Burn stream down to Beaumount. The helicopter sweep was carried out in conjunction with water-based searches by a jet boat and the Police National Dive Squad.

“The Talla Burn stream has also been re-checked today and land searchers have explored caves on the face above the stream as well as other areas above the stream,” said Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw, who is leading the search effort.

All searches have been unsuccessful.

Around 30 people have been searching today including family, friends and workers of the Wilsons.

The Dunedin swift water rescue team finished searching last night and the Police National Dive Squad completed its searches this morning. Both have been stood down but are able to be re-called at short notice.

“We are now moving to a more expansive search area, to include wider shoreline and river areas,” Detective Sergeant Shaw said.

Because the extent of the search is being widened, the search base will shift to Roxburgh Police Station. The search will continue tomorrow.

The local community continued to show huge support for the search effort, Detective Sergeant Shaw said.

Searches Boosted By Chopper

03 February, 2011

Southland’s search and rescue capabilities will be bolstered by the return of a permanent Southern Lakes helicopter and pilot in Tuatapere.

Southern Lakes Helicopters is moving one of its helicopters into the town to service the lower south and boost search and rescue and firefighting efforts.
The placement would provide the south with extra rescue capabilities, he said.

“It’s going to enhance our search and rescue capabilities, particularly for that southern end of Fiordland,” Mr Matheson said. Although rescues in that area were not particularly common, when they did occur, they often required assistance quickly, he said.

Having a helicopter based in Tuatapere would enable faster action in that area than one based from Te Anau, he said.

It would also provide shorter flying times for medivacs from the area to Invercargill, he said.

Pilot Sam Gawith, who had experience flying in Alaska and also with firefighting efforts, had been hired for the Tuatapere job. “We are delighted he’s come on board.”

Mr Gawith said he hoped to contribute in a range of areas, including Department of Conservation work, search and rescue, medivacs, firefighting, and mutton-bird work.

Three SAR Operations in South

02 February, 2011

Three search and rescue operations were under way in the south this afternoon.

A water rescue was under way near Beaumont Station after a man checking water levels fell into the Talla Burn River. Police were notified at 2.54pm.

Emergency services were on their way to the scene and a land search had begun.

Wanaka police were also managing two search and rescue operations, one in the Old Red Bridge area, near Luggate, and another to retrieve a 20-year-old injured man from the Mount Aspiring National Park area. He was believed to be suffering from a broken leg.

Police were notified late this morning that a man was standing on a bridge, near Luggate.

The body of a 38-year-old Cromwell man was found early yesterday afternoon about 120 metres south of Red Bridge, after a search and rescue operation below the bridge and on land surrounding the Clutha River.

Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell, of Wanaka, said police were called about 11.35am and began searching the river below the bridge. A local jetboat operator was called in to help, along with members of he Wanaka Land Search and Rescue team and a police dog. A search and rescue dog from Queenstown had been requested but was stood down.

The man’s body was found a short distance downstream of the bridge, on land close to a quarry area, Mr Grindell said.

Police would not comment on the circumstances surrounding the man’s death, which has been referred to the coroner.

Rescue Teams Locate Body

02 February, 2011

Police searching through heavy bush in “appalling” weather conditions have found a body.
Police believe the body belongs to John Campbell, 64, of Pahiatua, who went missing yesterday.

The discovery was made about 2pm in a gully cutting through a pine plantation near Hope Road, Woodville.

The location is about 1km from where Mr Campbell’s vehicle was found abandoned. The cause of death is unclear and a post mortem will be held to determine the cause of death.
At this stage there is nothing to suggest the death is suspicious.

Mr Campbell was last seen leaving his Pahiatua home in the about 6.45am to go to work, but he never arrived.
Search and rescue co-ordinator Constable Kevin Dalzell said Campbell’s family reported his disappearance to authorities around midnight last night.
A member of the public found Campbell’s white Toyota Starlet on Woodlands Rd, Woodville, about 7.15am yesterday, near an area of river and bush.

A police search and rescue team of around 15 people along with a rescue helicopter spent the morning searching for him.

Missing Motorist Found

25 January, 2011
A body found in a crashed car near Napier yesterday has been formally identified as missing motorist Alex Binns, police say.

Mr Binns left the township of Matiere on Thursday morning with plans to drive straight home to Hastings and give his 4-year-old granddaughter a belated birthday present.

But last night, a helicopter searching for Mr Binns found a car down a bank off State Highway 5 at Te Haroto, 70km northwest of Napier.

“The terrain was too steep and enclosed for the helicopter to get any closer to the vehicle so police sent a land search and rescue team into the area to check out the sighting,” a police spokeswoman said.

“The team located the car which contained the body of a man.

“It was not possible to airlift the deceased from the area so the rescue team carried him out on foot.”

A Hastings police spokesman today said the body had been formally identified as Mr Binns.

A post mortem would be carried out and the police serious crash unit was investigating, he said.

Mr Binns, 69, had spent a week in Matiere, near Taumarunui, house-sitting a farm for friends Rod and Moyra Brears.

He was due to return to the home he shared with his daughter and her family on Friday but set off a day early after his friends returned on Wednesday night.

“They said he was happy to be coming home,” his daughter Karalynn Twist told the Herald before the discovery of the car.

“He had a present for his granddaughter in the car because it [the previous Monday] was her birthday.”

Because Mr Binns was not expected to leave that day no one realised he had failed to make the 3-hour trip home and it was Friday afternoon before his daughter began to worry.

When she learned that he had left the previous morning, she contacted the police. Mrs Twist said it was unlikely her retired father had decided to go anywhere else on the way home because he had meat in the car from the farm. “He would have been coming straight home because of that – it was quite a hot day on Thursday.”

Police, friends and family searched the route he would have normally taken – both on the ground and from a helicopter – but had failed to find any sign of Mr Binns or his car until last night. Mrs Twist said her father was a creature of habit and in good health.

He was also very conscious about having a full tank of petrol, oil and water so she did not expect that there would have been any problems with his car.

Sergeant Grant Alabaster said there had been a possible sighting of Mr Binns at a service station in Tokaanu around lunchtime on Thursday.

Elderly motorist still missing

23 January 2011

An elderly motorist who left Taumarunui to drive to his Hastings home on Thursday morning (20 January) is still missing.

Alex Binns, aged 69, had been house-sitting a rural property in Matiere, near Taumarunui. He left on Thursday with a tank full of gas to head back to Hastings but never arrived home.

Police are making a number of enquiries and yesterday used a helicopter to scour his likely route from Taumarunui. The helicopter search revealed nothing and there have been no reported sightings of Mr Binns despite a media appeal.

Police are urging motorists who may be travelling the same route to keep an eye out for Mr Binns or his silver Ford Falcon, registration XB8100.
Motorists are also being asked to contact the Police if they see any signs along ths route that a vehicle may have left the road.

The likely route he would have travelled was SH41 to Turangi, SH1 to Taupo before picking up SH5, the Taupo to Napier Road.

Alex is described as European, with grey hair and a fairly solid build.
Anyone who has seen him or has any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Taumarunui Police on 07 895 8119.

Being well-equipped can save lives

23 January 2011

A woman is safe and on her way to hospital thanks to the communications equipment that was being carried by a group she was canoeing with.

A group of 16 people hired canoes from Matai Canoe in Ohakune yesterday and, accompanied by a guide, headed out for a three-day trip along the Whanganui River. They were making their way towards John Coull Hut when a woman in her 50s overturned her canoe. She began suffering from the wet and cold so the
group decided to stop overnight at Oakura.

This morning the group were still concerned for the woman’s hypothermic condition so they activated a locator beacon around 9.22am. As a result of this activation Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre were alerted to the distress call and the Taranaki Rescue helicopter was quickly able to locate and airlift the woman to hospital.

The rest of the group are continuing their trip.

Sgt Colin Wright of Whanganui Police said: “This is an excellent example of how being well-equipped on tramping or river trips can prevent serious injury or loss of life. Without that locator beacon we may have found ourselves dealing with a very different and more grave scenario.”

Missing Korean teenager found safe and well

22 January 2011

A Korean teenager missing overnight in National Park has been found safe and well.

16-year-old Geonwoo, was last seen by family near Taranaki Falls around 4pm yesterday afternoon.

A 20-strong search and rescue team assisted by a police dog have been scouring the area throughout the day. Mid afternoon the team found Geonwoo’s name and yesterday’s date etched into a clay bank on the track between Taranaki Falls and Tawa Lakes.

The search team concentrated their efforts on this area and as they closed in on Mangatepopo Hut they came across a tramper who had just seen the boy approximately 200 meters from the hut. Rescuers found him a short time later.

The boy was slightly hypothermic but otherwise unharmed. He has been checked out by St John and flown by helicopter back to National Park and reunited with his family.

Due to the language barrier Police do not know precisely what happened to Geonwoo but it is believed he had wandered from his family and got himself lost.

Concern for missing, elderly motorist

22 January 2011

Police are concerned for an elderly Hastings man who hasn’t returned home from a house-sitting trip to Taumarunui.

Alex Binns, aged 69, had been house-sitting a rural property in Matiere, near Taumarunui. The plan was for Alex to head back to Hastings yesterday morning (Friday). Last night when he had failed to return relatives contacted the house owners in Matiere to discover Alex he had in fact left the house on Thursday morning, a day earlier than expected, giving even more cause for concern.

The relatives contacted Police who have since been making enquiries and currently have a helicopter flying the route Alex was due to travel.

Alex’s disappearance is completely out of character. He had a full tank of petrol and was expected to drive straight home as he had frozen meat in the car.

His car is a silver Ford Falcon, registration XB8100. He is described as European, with grey hair and a fairly solid build. He would have driven from Taumarunui on SH4 and SH41 to Taupo before taking the Taupo to Napier highway home.

Anyone who has seen Alex or has any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Taumarunui Police on 07 895 8119.

Teenager missing in National Park

22 January 2011

Police are this morning searching for a teenager missing overnight in National Park.

Geonwoo, aged 16, is Korean and on holiday in New Zealand with his parents and sister. Yesterday afternoon he and his family decided to walk the Taranaki Falls loop track. This is a relatively easy and well-defined track of aproximately six kilometers.

When the family reached the waterfall, the parents and sister were down at the bottom of the falls and Geonwoo was at the top on the track. At this point, which was approximately 4pm, the rest of the family lost sight of him. They didn’t see him again after this time, and he failed to return to their National Park accommodation.

Approximately 20 Police and volunteer search and rescuers from Whanganui, Turangi, National Park and Taumarunui are currently searching for the teenager. Low cloud is making use of a helicopter difficult.

Geonwoo is wearing shorts, a black windbreaker, a peak cap and running shoes. He has no physical disabilities or health conditions. He cannot speak English. At this stage Police are only disclosing his first name.

Anyone who has seen Geonwoo or has any information about his whereabouts is asked contact National Park Police on 027 454 627.

One year on Police call for information on missing man

21 January 2011

One year on from the disappearance of Nelson man Leo Lipp-Neighbours police are appealing to the public to come forward with any information that may help their investigation.

Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge said police had not given up hope of finding Leo who has not been seen since 24 January 2010.

“The file is still open. We have investigated numerous sightings of a vehicle similar to Leo’s in Marlborough around North Bank Road and Rai Saddle. Unfortunately we still haven’t been able to definitely establish if those sightings were Leo or another person.”

Detective Sergeant Langridge said police had also not ruled out the possibility that Leo’s disappearance was the result of foul play.

“We’re still investigating every avenue and we’re very keen to hear from anyone who may have information relating to Leo’s disappearance”.

“We met with Leo’s family today and they need to know what has happened to their son. Police want this resolved as well. If there’s someone out there who knows something we need them to come forward.”

Anyone with information can contact Detective Kelvin Heiford at Nelson Police Station.
Anonymous information can also be given to Crimestoppers, Ph 0800 555 111

Woman Clings to Cliff for 8 Hours

16 January 2011

A woman clung to the side of a crumbling cliff face in the Bay of Islands for eight hours after becoming stranded in rising tides.
Chloe Shortland, 22, raised the alarm early yesterday by signalling with her camera flash from a narrow ledge at Tapeka Pt, north of Russell.
The same cliff, known as “lover’s leap”, claimed the life of a 29-year-old Auckland partygoer in 2009, who fell 60m from the cliff.
A local saw the camera’s flash and contacted Russell Radio, a voluntary organisation based in the Bay of Islands, who then contacted emergency services.
Yesterday, Search and Rescue used spotlights to find Shortland and lowered clothing, food and water to her just after 3am. Rescuers decided it was too dangerous to try to reach her in the darkness.
An abseiler reached Shortland at dawn. She was lowered on to a dinghy and rowed to the Coastguard’s vessel. They reached Russell about 6.30am.
Shortland, who was cold and shaken but otherwise unhurt, apparently became trapped after setting off for a walk from her nearby home on Tapeka Rd at 3pm on Friday.
She sent a text message to a friend but her cellphone battery died.
Rescue workers were amazed that the woman had managed to reach the ledge.
Bay of Islands Coastguard Kelvin Petrie said: “Even mountain goats would be struggling. I was surprised at how she’d managed to get there.”
Senior sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said Shortland did the right thing by staying on the ledge and not trying to swim to safety.
“I wouldn’t want to be trapped there, if you fell from the top you’d die,” he said.
Shortland was last night recovering at the home of her parents, Colwyn and Kaye Shortland, who own the Pukematu Lodge in Russell.

Search for Overdue Helicopter

14 January, 2011

A major search and rescue mission was activated in the Heaphy area of northwest Nelson last night, after reports of an overdue helicopter.

The category-two operation was triggered by the Lower Hutt-based Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand and involved the Summit Rescue Helicopter, which was sent from Nelson to take part in the search at about 6pm.

The centre is responsible for co-ordinating all category-two search and rescue incidents in New Zealand.

Nelson Search and Rescue assistant co-ordinator Sherp Tucker said the helicopter pilot had checked in at Westport at 11am yesterday, but had not been heard from again yesterday, which was when the rescue centre became concerned.

Rescue workers were stood down about 6.30pm, when the helicopter was found to have landed safely.

Mr Tucker understood it had planned a route from the West Coast through the Heaphy area, but poor visibility caused by fog and mist forced it to land.

Summit Rescue Helicopter pilot Tim Douglas-Clifford said the Jet Ranger helicopter, which he understood was privately owned and had three people on board, had flown from Hokitika. He said the pilot had been forced to land because of poor weather, but was unable to radio out to report their position.

The pilot was eventually able to contact a commercial aircraft flying overhead, which then relayed the helicopter’s position and details to authorities.

Body Located at Raglan

13 January 2011

Raglan police searching for 42 year old Jason Waterman since yesterday afternoon, have found a man’s body in steep terrain, around 300m from where the missing man’s car was left. It is believed to be Mr Waterman, but a formal identification has yet to confirm this.
Police are unable to determine the cause of death, and are looking into the circumstances of Mr Waterman’s disappearance.
A large number of people, including friends and family of Mr Waterman, Search and Rescue members from Waikato and Waitomo, Raglan Surf Rescue, local Raglan Police, and the Auckland Police helicopter were involved in the overnight search.
Sergeant Warren Shaw from the Waikato Search and Rescue Squad wishes to thank all those who were involved in any way assisting in this search.

Missing diver found alive and well

13 January 2011

Missing diver Colin Smithies has been found alive and well.
The 49 year-old walked into the Clive Police Station in the Hawkes Bay a short time ago.
How Mr Smithies came to be in Clive is yet to be determined and Police will not make any further comment until tomorrow morning once further investigations have been completed overnight.

Man Missing in Raglan

12 January 2011

Raglan police are seeking assistance in locating a missing man whose car has been found at the Te Toto gorge car park south-east of the township.
42 year old Jason Waterman was last seen in Raglan at 4.00pm on Monday. It is not known why his 2003 Toyota station wagon has been left at the gorge.
Mr Waterman is described as being Caucasian in appearance. No clothing description is available at this stage.
Police and search and rescue staff are searching the gorge area and a surf club boat is searching the coastline.
Anyone having knowledge of the missing mans movements since Monday or knowing his whereabouts is asked to contact the Raglan police.

Kayaker fails to return from Hokitika River

12 January 2011

A Search & Rescue operation was launched yesterday after a kayaker failed to return from a trip in the upper Hokitika River.
Police were advised of the incident late on the 10th after the overdue man’s companion made it out of the hills.
He stated that Mr. Nicholas Thomas, 32 from Christchurch had fallen out of his kayak earlier in the day and injured himself preventing him from paddling certain sections of the river, and instead was attempting to walk out.
“The area they were in is extremely rugged and walking out is very difficult indeed”.
After a reasonable amount of time was given for Mr. Thomas to make his own way out a helicopter was sent to search for him.
He was located in the Hokitika River after the rugged terrain prevented him from getting back, he had spent one night out.
“We are happy that the pair had extra equipment with them including extra food and basic overnight gear. Once he found himself in difficulty and unable to walk out he decided to stay put and wait for rescue”.
Mr. Thomas was winched to safety by the Solid Energy Rescue Helicopter and flown to Greymouth Hospital with suspected broken ribs.
Search & Rescue Teams from Hokitika were on standby to enter into the hills.

Search underway for missing diver near Porirua

11 January 2011

A search is underway near Titahi Bay beach for an overdue diver who failed to return home last night.
Police were notified around 11 o’clock last night, after the 49 year old man had not made any contact with his wife for several hours.

Officer in charge of the search, Inspector Mike Wright says a search got underway at first light, around 5:30am this morning.
“We’re searching an area from Rocky Point in the south, to Pukerua Bay in the north and out to Mana Island.”

He says Police are being assisted in a shoreline search by Land Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers. On the water, Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV is being assisted by the Mana Coastguard and two other Kapiti Coastguard vessels.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is also involved in an aerial search.

Sightings of Missing Man Unconfirmed

10 January 2011

Dargaville police say reported sightings in Northland supermarkets of a man who disappeared in Waipoua Forest almost three months ago are unconfirmed rumours.
Yesterday, Detective Sergeant Jonathan Tier said no sightings of Troy Liddington had been reported to the police.
“These sightings are just rumours – we have heard nothing further regarding the whereabouts of Mr Liddington,” says Mr Tier.
The 37-year-old father of four left a house near the Waipoua visitors’ centre on October 13, saying he was going for a walk.
The alarm was raised when the Hawke’s Bay man had not returned two days later.
He is known to have strong survival skills but carried no food and little clothing.
The only equipment he took was a cigarette lighter.
He reportedly told family members he wanted to commune with the spirits of the forest.
A week-long search-and-rescue operation involving 30 police staff and volunteers failed to locate any sign of Mr Liddington other than finding some clothing, similar to that worn by him when he disappeared, stacked neatly on a river bank.
Late last month Far North Search and Rescue adviser Roger Ladd, of Kerikeri, told the media there were unconfirmed sightings of Mr Liddington stocking up at a supermarket.
At the time Mr Ladd agreed the information was second-hand but said it had come from two credible sources.
He did not know which supermarket it was, but thought it most likely Opononi.
Other possibilities were Waimamaku and Dargaville.
Last month his mother Huti Liddington said her son had no money or ATM card with him when he disappeared.
While she believed he was still alive, because he knew how to survive in the bush, she had not heard from him since he disappeared and knew nothing of the supposed sightings.
Mr Tier says police continue to regularly contact Mr Liddington’s family and friends in the hope he might get in touch with someone, in particular his mother.

Local Knowledge Leads to Rapid Rescue

06 January, 2011

A Oamaru man and his two young daughters were spared a second night lost in the Waitaki Valley, after the landowner rescued them just before sundown.

The trio had been lost since Tuesday, and Oamaru and Otematata police and Search and Rescue failed to find them yesterday. However, a private search by the owner of Otematata Station found them in just 20 minutes, around 9pm.

The girls, aged nine and 11, from Christchurch, and their 40-year-old father had set out in a 4WD on Tuesday morning from Otematata Station, intending to come out at Danseys Pass the same day. The search was launched yesterday morning after the father contacted police on his cellphone to say he was lost.

Otematata Station owner Hugh Cameron used his own helicopter to search for the trio after he spoke to the driver, who told him about the area where they had travelled.

Mr Cameron’s wife, Mandy, said last night they were unaware the trio were on the property until last night, as they had entered the station through Department of Conservation land.

“We were told they were on the property and as we know the property the best, my husband Hugh used his helicopter to go looking for them.

“The rivers are high so it will take about an hour to get them back. As a good news story, I feel proud to be part of it. Hugh has gone up with food and hot drinks for them.”

Search and Rescue and police used four-wheel-drives and a helicopter to search for the group yesterday, Oamaru sergeant Tony Woodbridge said.

“It just shows you can’t beat local knowledge. It is an excellent result. We were concerned they were going to be spending another night out there as they were not prepared with enough warm clothes and food and water. One of the daughters has a medical condition I will not disclose, but it could have become a problem.

“The mother in Christchurch has been contacted and she was ecstatic they had been found. I will obviously be speaking to the driver and debriefing about what went wrong.”

Contact had been maintained through the man’s cellphone.

90 Year Old Woman found in swamp after 54Hrs

06 January 2011

After 54 hours in the open, missing 90-year-old June Wickman was found alive by her grandsons yesterday, amazing rescuers.
The great-grandmother was found lying in a dried-up creek bed.
“I’m here,” she called, as a search party combed the area near the Heritage Park in Manu.
Grandson Colin Wickman said he was with his cousin when they made the discovery about 3.15pm.
“She heard us talking and she yelled out. We went over and she recognised us both and tried to get up. We had to tell her to relax,” he said.
Other family members were just as relieved to find she was safe and well.
“Unbelievable,” was how son Dean Wickman described his mother’s steely resolve.
“She’s spent two nights days and nearly three days out there in the sun and she’s fine.”
Earlier in the day he had vowed to keep searching until they got a “result”.
“We are concentrating on that Barge Park area because that’s where she told people she was going. We have to cover every inch of that bush.”
Mrs Wickman was last seen about 9.30am on Tuesday when she told neighbours she was heading to the Bird Recovery Centre in Maunu – where she used to volunteer – from her home in Puriri Park Rd.
She never made it.
Her disappearance sparked a major search and rescue operation with family members, neighbours and members of Northland’s Land Search and Rescue teams scouring property, bush, waterways and farmland around Maunu late Tuesday and Wednesday, but there was no sign.
Police and volunteers had gone door-to-door in the area around her home and in the wider Maunu area appealing for sightings.
Yesterday, in a last-ditch bid to find her, police and family members went over rough land at Barge Park, just behind the historic Clarke Homestead.
Mrs Wickman was found lying on her back in a creek bed that was nearly dry.
It is thought she slipped and was unable to get up.
She was put on a stretcher and placed on the back of a Native Bird Recovery Centre vehicle and taken to a waiting ambulance.
As an advanced paramedic carried out an assessment and asked questions, Mrs Wickman was quick to respond with her birth date and other information.
She even joked: “After this my family will never trust me to be left alone again.”
Mrs Wickman, who suffers from mild Alzheimer’s disease, was taken to Whangarei Hospital to be checked.
Police Search and Rescue co-ordinator Spence Penney was delighted and amazed to find Mrs Wickman alive.
“I’m rapt for the family.
It’s a blessing to have your parents, that’s for sure.”
After a few sleepless nights Dean Wickman anticipated the family would be enjoying a few drinks and relaxing last night.
Mrs Wickman has lived at her Maunu home since 1967. She is visited twice a day by a home support worker.
The family were grateful for the support from police and volunteers.
Sergeant Neil Pennington was part of the search teams scouring the Maunu area.
He said during Wednesday’s search two skulls and some bones were found. Whangarei detectives were called and after looking at the bones were satisfied they were pre-European remains.
The site was blessed and local kaumatua were called and collected the bones which were taken to a cemetery.

Three runners found in Rotoma Forest

31 December 2010

Three missing runners missing near Lake Rotoma have been found in the Rotoma Forest by a search and rescue team.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Search and Rescue Co-ordinator, Sergeant Andrew O’Reilly, says the trio are safe and well.
He says it will take approximately three hours for the trio and the search and rescue team to get out of the Forest.
“We haven’t been able to speak to the trio in great detail at this stage so we are still unclear as to what went wrong for them. We will have the opportunity to speak with them once they are safely back at one of our Police Stations.
“The most important thing right now is that they have been found and that they are safe and well.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the past 18 hours, at a time when many of our volunteers and supporters are taking a well earned break to celebrate the festive season with their family and friends.”

Missing Pig hunters O.K.

30 December 2010

At noon today Police were alerted to two pig hunters with three dogs overdue from a day hunt on Monday. Friends had found their car at the Department of Conservation camping ground, Otaki forks.
After basic Police enquiries LandSAR and Amateur radio Emergency Corps volunteers were called out to assist. A Search Management team was established at Levin Police station.
The men were a 30 year old from Waitarere Beach, and a 25 year old from Paraparaumu Beach. They had the clothes they were wearing, lunch, and water bottles.
They had headed up the Eastern Bank of the Waiotauru river but become geographically confused near Waiotauru Forks after chasing and killing a pig.
They spent Monday night in a Punga Biv they made and had a fire to keep warm. Unfortunately they accidentally burnt their lighter so, on Tuesday night they did not have a fire.
This morning their dogs crossed the river and found a track on the Western bank. The men followed this and eventually it took them back to their car at about 6.20pm tired, hungry and damp but otherwise O.K.
The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter with three Horowhenua LandSAR volunteers aboard was searching the area and spotted the men as they arrived at their car. A Police SAR team was en route to search the area around the car and two other LandSAR teams were on standby to assist.

Climber falls at Mt Aspiring

16 December 2010

At 6.50 am on 15/12/10 Wanaka Police were alerted to an incident in the MT Aspiring National Park. It was reported that a climber had fallen while climbing the South West Ridge of Mt Aspiring.
Constable Mike Johnston stated the fall occurred while the deceased and his 20 year old male climbing companion where ascending the South West Ridge of Mt Aspiring. The climbing companion was assisted down from the mountain to Colin Todd hut by two climbing guides who were guiding clients to the summit.
3 members of the Wanaka Search and Rescue Alpine Cliff Rescue team responded to the incident and recovered the body of a 21 year old male of Singaporean decent visiting from Melbourne, Australia.
It was perfect weather conditions for the rescue team. The recovery had a technical nature as the rescue team needed to use a strop (rescue rope below the helicopter) to access the steep terrain to recover the deceased.
Constable Mike Johnston of the Wanaka Police said that an investigation is being completed by Wanaka Police on behalf of the Coroner to ascertain what caused the death.
Police have been able to located Next of Kin overseas and they have been informed of this tragedy. The name of the deceased is Eng Wu ONG and 21 year Singaporean student who was residing in Melbourne Australia.

Missing Palmerston North child found

10 December 2010

A 6-year-old Palmerston North girl missing from her Highbury home overnight was found safe and well shortly after 8am this morning.
Details of just where Sapphire has spent the night are still unclear. Police and her family are pleased however that she has been found and thank Search and Rescue volunteers and residents for their help.

Operation Sapphire

10 December 2010

Police and Volunteer Search and Rescue Teams are currently searching Highbury, Palmerston North, for a missing 7 year old girl.
Her name is Sapphire and she is described as Maori, light skinned with ginger hair in a pony tail. It is currently unknown what she is wearing.
She was last seen in Otaki Place at approximately 6pm on Thursday the 9th December 2010, riding an orange and black bicycle.

Search and Rescue scaled back

26 October 2010

The Search & Rescue operation at Okarito for Mr. Snoep has been scaled back to a limited continuous search pattern.
A land based search covering 11kilomters of the coastline this morning failed to locate any sign of the missing fisherman.
The search effort involved a team of Land Search & Rescue volunteers from Hokitika, South Westland and supported by local Okarito residents.
Mr. Snoep went missing yesterday after he entered the water in an attempt to save two other fisherman who had been swept out to sea.
An off duty police officer was also on the scene and managed to successfully rescue one of the men, the other was rescued by a local man who had a small dinghy however they were unable to locate Mr. Snoep.
If it was not for the courageous actions of those involved in the rescue more lives may have been lost.
Police would like to remind those fishing on the West Coast this whitebait season not to under estimate the danger of river mouths and the surf.
“Essentially there are no safe beaches on the West Coast and given the remoteness of many white baiting areas, fisherman need to remain vigilant”.
Police would also like to thank the community of Okarito for their support to both the search effort and the missing man’s family.

Search and Rescue continues- Okarito, South Westland

25 October 2010

A Search & Rescue operation will resume for a missing white bait fisherman this morning at Okarito River Mouth north of Franz Josef.
The missing man is John Karl Snoep, 76 years of age from Christchurch.
Mr. Snoep entered the water to help save two other fisherman who were swept out to sea yesterday.
An off duty police officer was also on the scene and managed to successfully rescue one of the men, the other was rescued by a local man who had a small dinghy however they were unable to locate Mr. Snoep.
If it was not for the courageous actions of those involved in the rescue more lives may have been lost.
Today’s search will involve Land Search and Rescue volunteers from Hokitika and South Westland and will focus on the shoreline.
Police would like to remind those fishing on the West Coast this whitebait season not to under estimate the danger of river mouths and the surf.
“Essentially there are no safe beaches on the West Coast and given the remoteness of many white baiting areas, fisherman need to remain vigilant”.

Whitebaiters rescued – Okarito River mouth near Whataroa

24 October 2010

At 0900hrs on Sunday the 24 October 2010 Police were advised of three Whitebaiters being swept about 200 metres out to sea, from the Okarito River mouth near Whataroa.
Two of the male Whitebaiters have been rescued by jet boat and a jet ski. They are being treated by the Ambulance service and are in a stable condition.
One person is still outstanding. A helicopter, Search and Rescue and locals are assisting to try and locate the missing person.

Missing 6 Year Old Found at Friends House

19 October, 2010

Taupo Police, as well as Search and Rescue volunteers, worked into the early hours of the morning looking for a missing six year old child from Wairakei.

Concern for the child was raised by family members after she did not arrive home after school. Family searched for a lengthy period of time before contacting Police.

The child was located after midnight asleep at a friend’s house in rural Taupo, where she had gone for a ‘sleepover’ after school.

“This type of incident is always a stressful time for family, Police and volunteers. What happened today shows the importance of knowing where your children are. If children have friends staying over make sure that parents contact each other and discuss all arrangements,” says Senior Sergeant Fane Troy, the officer in charge of Taupo Police.

Senior Sergeant Troy says he cannot reiterate enough the need for caregivers and parents to talk to each other so this type of incident does not occur.

Women Lucky to Survive

17 October, 2010

Two Christchurch women rescued by helicopter in Arthur’s Pass National Park today were “very lucky” to be alive, after a series of foolish botches including walking into a dangerously flooded river using just a walking pole to stay together, rescuers say.

Police say they have the power to bill the trampers for their rescue, which involved a helicopter, but have not yet decided whether to do so.

Severe weather warnings for the area including rain and snow had been in place for several days, but the trampers – in their late 20s – claimed not to be aware of them, Search and Rescue Arthur’s Pass spokesman Graeme Kates told NZPA.

After waking up in Goat’s Pass hut to find it raining, they decided to head back across several rivers in flood. At the first crossing, Mingha River, they joined up using a walking pole.

“They weren’t actually crossing it using any technique I would use,” Mr Kates said.

Both were swept away about halfway across. While one quickly recovered and got to the other side, the other carried on about 200 metres, over rapids and small waterfalls, before she managed to scramble out and raise the alarm back at the hut.

However, after alerting police on radio, she cut the emergency call off halfway through, and turned it off, leaving police unsure of the situation. Because of the bad weather, they dispatched a helicopter, which found the two women at different huts on opposite sides of the river, with mild hypothermia and shaken up about 1.30pm today.

The one who had been swept the furthest also had minor head injuries, cuts and bruises, but neither needed medical treatment, Mr Kates said.

“She definitely went over quite a few bumps and got hit fairly hard.”

He said the two were clearly novice trampers, who made several errors.

“They obviously walked into a flooding river as well.”

His advice to trampers was to “always” get the most current weather forecast, “and certainly never walk into any river where you cannot see your feet on the bottom”.

The women were very embarrassed and did not want to talk to media, he said.

“I think they were very lucky, given the situation.”

Police also said the pair were “very lucky”, with heavy rain and snow closing in as they were being rescued.

Sergeant Lindsay Turner said although police were funded by Government for search and rescue emergencies, they had the power to bill people rescued from situations where they had been at fault, but had not yet decided whether to do so in this case.

He did not believe there was a precedent for this in New Zealand.

Missing Chopper Wreckage Located

15 October, 2010

Rescuers have found the bodies of two occupants of a helicopter which had been missing since yesterday afternoon.

Searchers found the crashed Robinson R22 helicopter just after noon today, submerged but intact about 2km South East of Colyers Island, inside Bluff Harbour.

The body of the pilot was found inside the aircraft and the body of the passenger was located nearby.

Police are now notifying next of kin and will have responsibility for formally confirming the identities of the deceased.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) senior mission controller Tracey Brickles said RCCNZ extended its heartfelt sympathies to the families of the two men.

Ms Brickles thanked all who had been involved in the search, which included search crews on board three helicopters, two Coastguard vessels and a Coastguard jetski, as well as local police personnel and a LandSAR team.

The helicoper was reported missing yesterday just after 2pm. There had been no contact with it since 1.30pm.

Helicopters, coastguard air patrol and vessels from Bluff and Riverton had been working with police and RCCNZ since immediately after the helicopter was reported missing. Helicopters continued to search last night using night vision equipment.

It is the second Robinson R22 to crash in the South Island this month. On October 5, a privately-owned craft crashed on the Banks Peninsula, with the sole-occupant suffering back injuries.

New wall for search & rescue training

17 September, 2010

A new climbing and abseiling wall has been fitted to a 14 metre-high tower at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua.

The upgrade will help police officers prepare for difficult search and rescue operations.

As well as the new wall, the tactical training tower features a helicopter-drop simulation platform, a rope-climbing area and indoor rooms simulating confined spaces such as lift shafts.

The improved tower was the vision of Inspector Steve Bruce, manager of Staff Safety Tactical Training at the College for five years. It was funded by the Police Association, Police Council of Sport and private contributors.

It is dedicated to Bob Walton, who was police commissioner from 1978 to 1983.

Search for missing Coromandel hunters ends successfully

9 September, 2010

Take appropriate clothing and navigation aids and know how to use them is the message from Waikato Police calculating the cost of a successful search and rescue operation overnight.

Sergeant Phil Bell of the Waikato Search And Rescue squad said two Thames men had been reported missing after failing to return from a hunting trip in the Kauaeranga Valley.

“The pair, aged 31 and 27, had gone into the bush with five dogs hunting pigs about 9am Tuesday and were due out around 4pm, when they didn’t appear the alarm was raised and search teams converged on the area yesterday morning.

“Their vehicle was located pretty quickly and from there search teams spent the day searching for them with fresh teams coming in last night to conduct a light and audio search while other groups camped at different spots by streams in the hope the pair would come across them.”

Mr Bell said a search team heading up the Waiwawa River found the men about 11.30pm cold, wet and with minor injuries.

The pair were also showing the early stages of hypothermia.

“They’d got lost chasing a pig into a different water catchment area and ended up following the wrong stream which they thought was taking them back to their truck.

“Unfortunately they had no compass, map or GPS, had they not been found they would have been in pretty dire straights facing a second night in the bush. We managed to get them back to our base camp early this morning.”

Mr Bell said while the priority is always about the preservation of life those involved are now contemplating the cost of what was an avoidable operation that involved about 50 civilian volunteers and nine Police staff.

“We’re looking at about 450 volunteer hours and 150 Police hours, while our teams do the job because of their love of the bush and a genuine spirit of wanting to help people volunteers people are taking themselves away from their jobs and families during each call out.

“What we’re asking people to do is take care of the basics, ensure if you’re going into the bush take the proper clothing and navigational aids and know how to use them.”

Missing Russell Man Found

30 August, 2010

Police have recovered the body of a missing Bay of Islands man.

Ronald Earle Rasion (known as Earle), aged 48 years, went missing on Friday August 13.

He was at the Russell Boating Club that night and was last seen at a house up the road from the club.

Police believe that after Mr Raison left the house he tried to row in his dinghy across Matauwhi Bay to the yacht where he lived and fell out of the dinghy.

A member of the public found the body of Mr Raison on the shoreline in Te Puna Inlet on the afternoon of Friday August 27.

Mr Raison’s death has been referred to the coroner and a post mortem will be carried out on his body.

Police and Mr Raison’s family would like to thank all those who helped to search for him during the last two weeks.

Man Missing in Wellington

28 August, 2010

A search is underway in Wellington for a missing 51 year-old man.

Police Search and Rescue and Wellington Land Search and Rescue are searching an area where Robert Logan is known to frequent. This includes Owhiro Bay, Red Rocks and surrounding areas.

Constable Ants Harmer says his white 1991 Nissan Sunny station wagon was found parked at the Owhiro Bay car park early yesterday afternoon.

“We have a team of around 20 searchers out this afternoon and the Wellington Police Maritime Unit is actively searching the shoreline.”

Police are keen to talk to anyone who has seen Mr Logan since yesterday.

Search Continues for Russell Man

27 August, 2010

Police carried out a further search yesterday for a Bay of Islands man who may have drowned after he went missing two weeks ago.

Earl Raison, aged 48 years, had been at the Russell Boating Club on the night of Friday August 13 and was last seen at a house up the road from the club.

Police believe that after Mr Raison left the house he tried to row in his dinghy across Matauwhi Bay to the yacht where he lived and fell out of the dinghy.

Following a report that the man was missing police and Far North LandSar volunteers began a thorough search of the shore and sea in the area.
Searchers were joined by the Police National Dive Squad, Coastguard and local residents.

Yesterday the Northland Police search and rescue team carried out a further search of the shoreline on foot and in kayaks around the bay.

However the man was not located.

A tapu that has been placed on the Matauwhi and Orongo Bay area remains in place. This means that this area is a no-take zone for shell and fin fish.

Police are asking that people contact them if they come across any clothing that could have belonged to the man or oars that could have been in his dinghy, or anything else that may be of interest.

Police Launch Missing Persons Website

18 August, 2010

Police have today launched a Missing Persons website through the NZ Police main website.

Although there has always been access to a page within the Police website, this revised site will now offer more to the public in the way of information and photographs of both current and historical missing person cases.

Only cases that Police have authority to publish information will be profiled and this includes current and historic cases.

Detective Sergeant Linda Simpson, head of the Police Missing Persons Unit says the website is another investigative tool to help Police search for people.

“We are hoping that having accessible information and photographs will jog people’s memories when we ask for public assistance. The information can be relayed back to the Police, anonymously, through the site.

There are more than 350 long term missing persons in New Zealand (people who have been missing for more than one year).

“Each year the New Zealand Police receive around 8,000 reports relating to missing persons. Of those reported missing, approximately 95% are found within a short period of time, usually before 14 days, with over 50% located within the first two days”, says Dectective Sergeant Simpson.

The Missing Persons Unit is located in the INTERPOL office at Police National Headquarters and is responsible for the coordination of all Missing Persons cases nationwide.

The website can be accessed through the Police website by clicking on the appropriate link.

If you have any information relating to the whereabouts of any of the missing people on the website, please contact your local Police station or follow the instructions on the website.

The Missing Persons Website can be accessed via the below link:


Police praise actions of Wainuiomata man

1 July, 2010

Police are praising the actions of a member of the public, who did the right thing when he came across a woman, reported missing to Police late last night.

Police were notified around 11pm that a Wainuiomata woman aged 56, with severe medical conditions had gone missing from her home.

Police Operations Manager Inspector Mike Wright says a search began shortly after, involving Police members of Search and Rescue (SAR), Wainuiomata Police and local community patrols, headed by Sergeant Jo Holden of SAR.

“We spent the best part of five hours searching for this woman in freezing temperatures until we got a call just before 4am that a kind member of the public had located the missing woman about 1.5 kilometres from her home.”

“A young local man was heading home from work and noticed the woman sitting beside the road. He made the right decision to stop and help and we want to publicly thank him for his actions.”

Inspector Wright says the man took the woman to the local service station and explained the situation before contacting Police.

“The woman was in a disorientated and confused state and was pleased to be returned safely to her family.”

Mike Wright says this young man’s choice to stop and help averted what could have been a tragedy. Police were actively searching at the time but this young man happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Waihi death not suspicious

28 June, 2010

The death of a farmer near Waihi overnight is not considered suspicious.

Sergeant Dave Litton of the Waihi Police said emergency services were alerted that the 61-year-old man had a problem after he had rung his family from the back of his 500 acre farm that he wasn’t feeling well and had chest pains about 4pm.

“Family members drove to the farm and were joined by neighbors and a search for the man commenced but they were unable to locate the man.

Mr Litton said a search operation was launched utilising Police staff, the Auckland based Westpac Rescue and Police Eagle helicopters and SAR volunteers from Waihi, Paeroa, Thames, Pauanui and Hamilton.

“In all around 40 people were involved in the operation, the man was found deceased in a paddock about 1km from the end of Willow Rd.

“There are no suspicious circumstances related to his death which has been reported to the Coroner. At this point we would like to express the gratitude of Eastern Waikato Police to all the volunteers, and their families, who came together to bring last night’s operation to a timely conclusion and express our sympathies to the bereaved family.”

Missing Man Located on Mt Hutt

June 15, 2010
Police are attending a Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash on the Mount Hutt access road.
A 60 year old Christchurch man was reported missing last night after he failed to return from a day at Mount Hutt.
Searchers found him deceased in his vehicle off the side of the access road around 3.30am this morning.

Search at Lake Mahinapua, Tasman District

14 June, 2010
On the 13th June 2010 Hokitika Police received a report of an abandoned vehicle at Lake Mahinapua. The circumstances gave Police reason to have concerns for the occupant’s safety. A search was subsequently commenced in and around the Lake.

This initial Police search involved the use of Volunteer Coastguard vessels from Greymouth and Lake Brunner searching the lake and shoreline. Volunteer Land SAR dogs were also used to search surrounding area. The search was suspended for the night once those tasks had been completed.

The Police Dive Squad arrived at Lake Mahinapua on the 14th. At about 11.00am the dive squad located a body in about 3 metres of water just to the south of Lake Mahinapua jetty.

This matter has been referred to the coroner and there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.

Weather Prevents Evacuation of Heart Attack Patient

14 June, 2010

Inclement weather meant a man believed to have suffered a minor heart-attack had to spend an uncomfortable two nights on Mt Pirongia waiting medical evacuation.

Waikato Police Search and Rescue Coordinator, Constable Dave Pitchford, said four men had been climbing the mountain on Friday night, heading towards a hut.

“During the climb one of their party, a man aged in his forties, has complained of chest pains and as his condition worsened his colleagues became concerned for his well being.

“The group phoned 111 and raised the alarm with ambulance staff who directed the group to make their way to a clearing with the intention of getting a helicopter up there to lift him out but unfortunately the weather closed in and the chopper was unable to get to the group.”

Mr Pitchford said the group bivvied up for the night and in the morning continued up to the hut, a further attempt to get to the man was unsuccessful and in the afternoon a paramedic and search and rescue member made their way up to the hut and stabilised the man.

“About 40 SAR personnel were by then on standby to go in and carry out a stretcher borne evacuation, the large number of people was required due to the difficult terrain.

“Fortunately for all concerned, about 7am Sunday a break in the weather allowed the helicopter to get through and the man was taken off the mountain and transferred to Waikato Hospital.”

Mr Pitchford said the events over the weekend were a good example of why people shouldn’t go into the bush alone and the importance of being well prepared.

Motorcyclists rescued

6 June, 2010

Central Otago Police were left shaking their heads in disbelief after having to rescue a large number of motorcyclists who became trapped in snow after ignoring road closed signs on the Dansys Pass road on Saturday night.

Police were advised about 6.40pm that a large number of motorcyclists were trapped in deep snow on the road between the Hotel and the summit.

The group whose ages ranged from early 20’s to mid 70’s had intended travelling over the pass to a motor cycle event in Central Otago. They became trapped just below the summit at lunchtime and had spent several hours on foot trying to walk the 14kms through snow to the Hotel.

A search and rescue operation was launched with Police, Ambulance, SAR volunteers, the local 4 wheel drive club, a commercial grader and a local farmer with a large tractor all helping in the search and recovery. A helicopter was requested but then stood down in the conditions with searchers having to go in by road.

Police and SAR staff in 4×4’s managed to travel up the road approx 2 kms from the Dansys Pass Hotel and found a group of 20 riders.

With deep snow further up a large tractor and the grader were then used to take searchers up the road where 3kms further up a group of 3 riders were located walking and then another 3 riders were found sheltering near the roadway 6kms up.

Searchers continued up to ensure all persons were located and accounted for and found the snow near the summit shoulder deep in places.

The riders were all extremely cold and tired and very grateful to see the searchers. They had been trying to walk through snow for some 7 hours at that stage in freezing conditions and were nearing the end of their endurance.

All were taken back to the Dansys Pass Hotel to warm up and after a warm drink and something to eat none needed any further medical attention.

The Dansys Pass road had been closed last week because of the road conditions and Police have established that there are locked gates on each side of the pass which these riders had come across but managed to bypass, along with at least three road closed signs that they had passed and ignored.

“Their decision to travel that road past warning signs and locked gates is foolish to say the least and could well have resulted in the loss of life. They not only put themselves at risk but caused others to have to risk the conditions to rescue them.”

Police are extremely grateful to the Hotel Owners who allowed their Hotel to become a search base and the other local’s and organisations that provided machinery and local knowledge to help the successful rescue.

Police are reviewing the incident but charges are unlikely against any of the riders.

“At the end of the day they made a bad decision and they will have to answer to their families and peers for that. I hope this will be a learning curve for those involved.

I’m sure a donation to the local Maniototo Search and Rescue organisation would be appreciated by the local community, but that is a matter for them.

We got everyone out safely and for all the people involved in the rescue that is reward enough.”

S&R recover body of missing hunter

6 June, 2010

Search and Rescue teams have recovered the body of a missing hunter in the Clyde River Valley in Mid Canterbury.

A 50 year old Levin man was reported missing from the McCoy Hut on Saturday morning 05/06/10.

He was last seen by his hunting companions at approximately 10.00 am on Friday 04/06/10. He had been hunting alone.

Search and Rescue teams involving LandSAR and Police personnel were alerted and deployed to the search area yesterday.

Three helicopters and approximately 40 LandSAR and Police personnel, including search dog teams, were involved in the operation.

A fourth RNZAF Iroquois helicopter was enroute to the incident from Ohakea airbase but was stood down when the body was located.

The cause of death is unknown. The matter has been reported to the Coroner. Next of kin are in the process of being advised and his name will be released in due course.

Conditions in the search area were poor, with cold temperatures, snow, and poor visibility. The terrain is mountainous and there is snow and ice on the ground.

A cold front and more snow is expected to hit the area later today and the searchers were pleased to locate the man, given the conditions.

The body was found on a steep and slippery slope and was recovered by a specialist alpine and cliff rescue team from Christchurch.

Father and son found safe

A father and son were found safe – but very cold and wet – after spending the night in bush around Lake Rotoma, near Whakatane. They became lost while collecting piko piko last night.

Sergeant Andrew O’Reilly, the Search and Rescue Co-ordinator for Eastern Bay of Plenty, says the 48 year old man and his seven year old son entered the bush at around 7pm. Police were alerted when they hadn’t returned by 11pm.

“The Search and Rescue team were deployed and were in the bush by midnight in conditions that could only be described as disgusting. There was heavy rain and it was very cold.”

Sergeant O’Reilly says the pair were found at 7:30am this morning.

“They, along with our Search and Rescue and Police teams, were cold and wet, but otherwise unhurt.

“Last night’s operation serves as a good reminder to people that if they are going into the bush – for whatever reason and in whatever conditions – to prepare for the absolute worst.

“Check the forecast, make sure you have plenty of warm clothing and wet weather gear, take a compass, and ensure that someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.

“We want people to enjoy the great outdoors, but we also want people to be safe.”

Twelve Search and Rescue volunteers and two Police were involved in the physical search operation at Lake Rotoma, while a further Police and civilian team managed the operation from Whakatane.

Dumped distress beacon wastes time and resources

31 May, 2010

Tauranga Search and Rescue were called out today after aircraft flying into Tauranga and Rotorua reported they were receiving a signal from an emergency locator beacon from within the greater Tauranga Area.

This beacon was not being picked up by satellite and was assumed to be an old 121MHz model, which is no longer monitored.

Tauranga Coast Guard, using direction finding equipment, spent just over two hours sweeping the harbour up to Katikati trying to locate the source without success.

Specialist radio signal tracking equipment was brought over from Hamilton by the RCCNZ (Rescue Coordination Centre), which narrowed the signal down to the Te Maunga Refuse Centre on Truman Lane, Mount Maunganui.

While the operator was there, the signal stopped and it is presumed the beacon was disabled as refuse was being crushed at the time.

Western Bay of Plenty SAR Coordinator Sergeant Craig Madden says disposing of an emergency location beacon in this way was careless and irresponsible.

“Anyone still in possession of the older 121 or 243 MHz distress beacon should hand them in to either the local Police Station or your local Coast Guard for deactivation prior to disposal.”

The new emergency beacons operating on 406 MHz have been the only beacon monitored by RCCNZ since 1 February 2009.

“The new 406 has considerably greater advantages, with its signal being picked up by Satellite within minutes. In addition, each signal sends a unique identification code with it so if it is registered with RCCNZ, details of the owner and their known activities , significantly reducing the time rescuers located the party in distress.

Search for Missing Cemetery Visitor Continues

20 May, 2010
Police are planning to revisit the Makara Cemetery grounds today to continue searching for an elderly man last seen there yesterday afternoon.

The man had been part of a group taken to the grounds by bus, but he failed to show up at the agreed leaving time.

Thirty search and rescue personnel from Police and NZ Land Search and Rescue searched the cemetery yesterday until the early hours this morning without success.

The man’s identity was not known and there was no record of who was on the bus. The man was described as 60-70-years-old, about 182cm tall, with gray hair and tan or off-white trousers. He was also carrying a green umbrella.

Wellington Police would also like to speak with passengers who travelled in the same bus as the man. Police urge those people to contact the Wellington Police (04) 381 2000.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may know the identity or the whereabouts of this man.

Elderly Woman Missing in Helensville

17 May, 2010
Police are appealing to the public for any sightings or knowledge of the whereabouts of an elderly Helensville woman who is reported missing from her residence at the Parakai Rest Home.

ALDER / Jeanette / Mary who is also known as Jeannette Gay is aged 80 years. She is a Caucasian female of heavy build with short grey hair.

Jeanette ALDER was last seen wearing a maroon coloured jersey, with white shirt underneath. Dark Trousers and dark coloured shoes.

Jeanette ALDER suffers from Dementia and as such could become vulnerable because of her state of health. She sometimes requires a walking stick for mobility.

Police say the last confirmed sighting of Jeanette ALDER was on Saturday 15 May 2010 at 10.00am by a caregiver at the Rest Home.

A further possible sighting is when a female fitting the missing woman’s desciption took a bus that departed Parakai on schedule at 10.47am.

The bus driver has confirmed this bus arrived in the Auckland CBD at 12.20pm. The driver has told police that a woman of similar description has got off the bus at the stop outside the Downtown shopping complex in Albert Street at this time.

There have been no further reported sightings of her since.

Security surveillance footage in the Downtown area is being accessed so that further information about the missing woman’s movements can be firmly established.

Eight members of the Police Search and Rescue Squad have been mobilised and an extensive search of the grounds at Parakai Rest Home, arterial and side roads, the area surrounding the Helensville Bridge and the riverside walkway has been completed today. Eagle has completed an aerial canvas along the Kaipara River.

A team of investigators from Rodney CIB are coordinating the ongoing enquiries by police throughout New Zealand. These include accommodation and medical venues in the Auckland CBD.

Jeanette ALDAR grew up in suburban St Heliers. She may be in this locality.
Anyone who has any knowledge of the whereabouts of Jeanette ALDER is urged to call Helensville Police on 09 420 8967 or Orewa Police on 09 426 4555 Immediately

-UPDATE- Jeanette ALDER is safe and well and being looked after in Picton.
Relatives have been informed and they will be travelling to Picton to assist with returning her to Helensville.
Police extend their thanks and appreciation to the public and the media for their valuable assistance with this missing person enquiry.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Kapiti Coast

16 May, 2010

About 4.30pm on 16 May 2010 Police the Police Central Communications Centre was advised of a missing 81 yr old male. The male was reported missing in Queen Elizabeth Park, Kapiti Coast.

The missing male was last seen at the carpark at the end of Whareroa Road near the beach. He had gone for a short walk along towards a river and was expected to return by 4.00pm. He was not dressed for the wet conditions and has not been seen since.

A Command Vehicle is on site, four Search teams have been deployed as well as the Westpac Rescue helicopter which has thermal imaging equipment on board.

Police searchers located the man’s body shortly before 9pm on Sunday night.
There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and the matter will be referred to the Coroner.

Police Search for Missing Woman

April 29, 2010

Police in Whanganui are searching for a woman who is believed to have been missing for 10 days.

On Monday, 19 April a bus driver spotted a woman sitting in a red Suzuki Stationwagon on SH4, at the Lismore intersection. He later noticed the same vehicle parked on Old Parapara Road by a small cluster of pine trees and assumed it had broken down.

Seeing it was still there yesterday (Wednesday, 28 April) he reported the vehicle to Police.

Police also received a report yesterday that 45-year-old Marice Jane McGregor, also known as Katrina, was reported missing by a relative, and enquiries show that the Suzuki car belongs to Miss McGregor.

Area Commander, Inspector Duncan MacLeod, said: “The length of time she appears to have been missing gives us serious concerns for Miss McGregor’s welfare. We have established that she spoke on 19 April to a female friend arranging to meet for coffee the following morning but Miss McGregor never turned up for that meeting. That is the last known contact she has had with anyone.”

A helicopter search is underway and Police divers are also preparing to search a waterway near where the vehicle was found. Miss McGregor’s home has already been searched and other enquiries are underway to try to locate her and piece together her recent movements.

Marice McGregor is described as European, 163cm tall and solid build with brown hair. It is not known what she would be wearing. She lives alone in Whanganui and has family and friends in the area but does not communicate with people easily.

Anyone with information about Marice McGregor that might assist in the Police search is asked to contact Whanganui Police on 06 349 0600.

120 Trampers Evacuated

April 26, 2010

One hundred and twenty trampers are this morning being evacuated from the Milford and Routeburn tracks by helicopter.

Heavy rain in the South Island has caused flooding in a number of major rivers, with forecasters saying there is more to come.

A Conservation Department spokeswoman said water levels had risen significantly, causing major flooding in the Milford area, with at least one bridge being swept away.

There were 40 walkers at each of the track’s three huts and they would be taken to the top of Lake Te Anau by helicopter.

There was “no other way” to get the walkers out, she said.

Conservation Department staff were heading out to assess the damage now.

Sergeant Todd Hollebon of Te Anau police said they had not been called in to help.

The MetService is forecasting a further 30 to 50mm in Southland and Central Otago, with more heavy rain expected in Westland and Fiordland today and tomorrow.

It is expected to be heaviest between Otira and George Sound, with up to 400mm possible today and tomorrow, the MetService said.

Missing Tramper Found Safe

April 26, 2010

The search for a tramper missing in Hawke’s Bay mountains was called off this morning after she was found safe and well.

Searchers were looking for Sally Ray, 57, after she failed to return to her car in the Triple X carpark yesterday following a tramp in the Ruahine Range west of Tikokino, 50km southwest of Hastings.

Police said Ms Ray had walked out of the bush to her car this morning, having spent the night in a hut.

National Award for Search and Rescue

April 23, 2010
The team responsible for solving a high-profile missing-tramper case in Mount Aspiring National Park received a national award this week for their efforts.

Christchurch Search and Rescue dog handler Dave Krehic and his charge Stig were presented with a New Zealand Search and Rescue Certificate of Achievement at a ceremony in Parliament on Tuesday.

The pair won the award for finding the remains of missing tramper Irina Yun in November.

Ms Yun went missing during heavy rain and gale-force winds on a section of the Cascade Saddle track in the Matukituki Valley on New Year’s Eve 2008.

In February, coroner David Crerar concluded Ms Yun had most likely been swept into a flooded Dart River while trying to cross a side creek.

Mr Krehic was involved in the first specialist search for Ms Yun, launched soon after she went missing.

The first search was hampered by bad weather, and did not turn up any signs of Ms Yun. But Mr Krehic had a strong feeling he could find her remains, and organised a self-funded, combined specialist search almost a year later.

“I organised a search which used White Water Rescue, Alpine Cliff Rescue and myself as a dog specialist,” he said.

“Usually, the specialist teams work separately, but the ravine that we suspected Ms Yun’s remains were in needed to be tackled by a combined effort, which ended up paying off.”

Three kilometres into the 7km ravine, the highly experienced team found the terrain too difficult to continue searching in, so resumed the search starting from the ravine’s bottom.

“We had 4km to cover, and started finding indicators that remains might be there almost straight away,” Mr Krehic.

The team successfully recovered the remains of Ms Yun not far from the point they had to leave the ravine in the first phase of the search.

Wanaka police offered to pay the costs of the private search, which was divided equally among the specialists involved, but the costs were paid for by an anonymous person, Mr Krehic said.

“There are so many passionate people involved in search and rescue, and so much support out there for the searchers involved but, at the end of the day, in a situation like this we were able to provide closure for Ms Yun’s family, and that was a huge achievement,” Mr Krehic said.

Injured Hunter Airlifted Out

April 20, 2010

A seriously injured hunter was last night airlifted to safety from the Fiordland bush after a tricky rescue mission.

The 54-year-old Australian man set off his emergency locator beacon from the George River area just after 7pm, said Keith Allen, of the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

The beacon alert coincided with a call from the South Island Mountain Radio Service, advising that the hunter had a broken leg.

A helicopter with night vision equipment was sent in but the rescue was “not straight forward” because the machine could not get close enough to winch the man out of the bush.

“The hunter’s injuries were also worse than at first thought, with a badly broken leg, fractured pelvis and suspected internal injuries sustained after falling over a bluff,” Mr Allen said.

“The rescue team then had to go in on foot and move the injured man to a more suitable spot so the helicopter could gain access, where the winch still needed to be extended to its longest reach.”

Mr Allen said one of the rescue crew then had to spend a night camped at the rescue site to make room for the injured man and his companion.

The pair were flown to Southland Hospital in Invercargill late last night, where the man was treated.

The helicopter returned to the rescue site early this morning to pick up the crew member and retrieve the man’s rifle and pack.

“Thanks to the hunter being well prepared by carrying an emergency beacon and mountain radio, we were able to launch a rescue mission and reach him relatively quickly, which probably saved his life,” Mr Allen said.

Missing trampers found

April 19, 2010

Police confirm two trampers missing at the Pinnacles at Wairarapa’s Cape
Palliser have been found safe and well.

Senior Sergeant Murray Johnston, who has been co-ordinating the Wairarapa
Land SAR search, says the women were well-equipped for a day trip and their
emergency clothing kept them comfortable and warm overnight.

“Both women had extra polypropylene clothing and coats, so they were
sufficiently prepared and comfortable overnight when they took a wrong turn
and became lost.”

Senior Sergeant Johnston says the women found their way to Cape Palliser Road
near the washpool stream after spending the night in a trampers hut. Police
are speaking with them to establish their movements.

Senior Sergeant Johnston says information about the women’s movements will be
forwarded to the Department of Conservation.

Family Located in Hunua Ranges

April 6, 2010

At 6.25pm Police received a report that a family of 6 where lost in the Hunua Ranges.
Search and Rescue were deployed in the ranges at 8pm.
The family was located by SAR at 10.45pm and they were walked out at 12.25am.
All family members are well and uninjured.

Missing Swimmer

April 5, 2010

A man believed to be in his early 20s is missing presumed drowned at Ngunguru, in the Whangarei District.
Police were alerted shortly after 2pm this afternoon that a group of 6 men had gone swimming in Ngunguru, and that one of their group had disappeared.
Coastguard, a helicopter, and a land Search and Rescue team were dispatched, but were unsuccessful in locating the missing swimmer.
The search will continue in the morning.

Missing Boys Found in Kaimais

March 23, 2010

Two missing boys were yesterday (Monday 22 March) found safe and well in bush in the Kaimai Ranges in the Bay of Plenty.

Katikati Police were informed at about 1:40pm on Monday afternoon that the two boys – a Canadian visitor aged eight years and an exchange student from Thailand aged 13 years were missing.

The boys, along with the eight year old’s mother and his Grandmother, went for a walk in the Kaimai bush at the end of Hot Springs Rd at about 10am.

The boys were allowed to run on ahead with instructions to meet up at the Tauhu Kauri Tree. When the mother and grandmother reached the Kauri tree, the boys were nowhere to be found.

They searched the area, but when they were unable to find the boys they returned and contacted police.

Tauranga Police SAR and Tauranga Land Search and Rescue volunteers were gathered at the Tauranga South Police Station for a briefing on the situation when the two boys were located by a local resident. He had heard about the missing pair and rode his horse along the track, finally catching up to the boys.

It is believed the boys failed to recognise the Kauri tree as their destination and had carried on walking past it, traveling deeper into the Kaimais towards the Waikato side.

The boys were about two hours walking time into the bush when located. They had no bush experience and only had light clothes.

Sergeant Craig Madden, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Western Bay of Plenty, said it was lucky they were found so quickly as the weather forecast was for showers and strong winds in the higher areas.

“The boys would have struggled if they had been the night in the bush. This was a great outcome for everyone involved.”

Allergy Suffers Rescued

March 22, 2010

A Palmerston North man was flown to hospital yesterday after suffering an allergic reaction to wasp stings while tramping in the Wairarapa.
The 62-year-old was picked up by a Westpac rescue helicopter near the Waingawa River on the edge of the Tararua Forest Park. It was the second such rescue in 12 hours.

A 28-year-old woman was flown from a hut in the Orongorongos, near Wellington, early yesterday with a suspected allergic reaction to food.

Sick Tramper Airlifted

March 21, 2010
A tramper suffering an allergic reaction was flown out of the Orongorongos, east of Wellington, overnight by Westpac rescue helicopter crew using night vision goggles.

The emergency call was made at 12.30am after a 28-year-old Wellington woman staying in a hut was thought to be having an allergic reaction to something she had eaten.

With the aid of the night vision goggles, the helicopter crew was able to find a member of the tramping party who had made their way down to the river with a torch.

The helicopter landed on the river bank and treated the woman in the nearby hut before flying her to Wellington Hospital.

Land SAR Gets Boost from Lion Foundation

March 18, 2010
More than 300 New Zealanders were rescued in the last year from caves, cliffs, river corridors and other outdoor areas, thanks to New Zealand Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR). The Lion Foundation is helping continue this vital service by issuing a grant for valuable volunteer equipment.

3,000 trained LandSAR volunteers will be provided with waterproof notebooks for use in the field, thanks to a $9,795 grant from the charitable trust. Volunteers need to record all search and rescue details, often in poor weather, so waterproof notebooks will make that part of the task easier.

Hadyn Smith, CEO of LandSAR is very grateful to The Lion Foundation: “This grant will fund 5,000 notebooks to be distributed nationwide to our volunteers, as well as provided to the New Zealand Police SAR Squad members.

“This is truly something which will benefit every community in the country. The volunteers largely fund themselves and use their own equipment, so being able to provide them with items like the notebooks is hugely beneficial.”

Operating for 24 years and one of the country’s most widely respected community trusts, The Lion Foundation funds a wide range of arts, cultural, sporting, educational and health focused causes, by distributing back to the local community the funds raised through gaming venues around New Zealand.

The Lion Foundation Chief Executive Phil Holden says the charitable trust is proud to support New Zealand Land Search and Rescue.

“Enjoying outdoor pursuits is second nature to New Zealanders, and it’s reassuring to know that, should unforeseen situations arise, there are skilled volunteers on hand to help with search and rescue operations the length and breadth of the country. The Lion Foundation is proud to help these volunteers with equipment they require to help keep New Zealanders safe.”

Inquest Sparks Warning to Trampers

March 11, 2010

The Mountain Safety Council is reminding trampers of its Outdoor Safety Code in light of inquest findings into the deaths of former Te Papa boss Seddon Bennington and his companion Marcella Jackson.

The pair died of hypothermia after they were caught in blizzard-like conditions in the Tararuas on July 11 last year, while trying to reach Kime Hut. Their bodies were found four days later, 300m apart, about 1km from the hut.

In findings released yesterday, Coroner Tim Scott said that being poorly prepared and ill-equipped contributed to their deaths.

The key factors were a lack of equipment for adverse weather, as well as their failure to properly check the weather forecast or take cellphones, Mr Scott said.

Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Noel Bigwood told the inquest their clothing and sleeping bags were inadequate and they did not carry a tent.

Neither tramper carried a compass, GPS device or mobile phone.

There were strong signals from both the Vodafone and Telecom networks in the area where they were found, he said.

Mountain Safety Council programme manager Chris Tews said the incident suggested a lack of care and preparation was taken in checking weather forecasts and assessing how the forecast snow and high winds were likely to affect the planned journey.

When venturing into the outdoors the council advises everyone to use the Outdoor Safety Code:

*Plan your trip.
*Tell someone about your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.
*Be aware of the weather. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.
*Know your limits. Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.
*Take sufficient supplies. Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario.
* Take an appropriate means of communication.

Mistakes in Ruahine Ranges Maps

March 2, 2010

Mistakes made in maps of the Ruahine Range can put trampers’ lives at risk, the Manawatu Tramping Club says.

The latest official topographical map series included mistakes with tracks that have never existed or no longer exist, tracks put on the map in the wrong place, or tracks included that are no longer deemed safe to use, the Manawatu Standard reported.

The errors were discovered by chief guide Kim Fraser when she took some groups through the eastern side of the Ruahine Range.

Department of Conservation area manager Jason Roxburgh said the new maps had been created using the same technology as that used in GPS systems, mostly created by aerial photos.

He urged people who find mistakes to contact the department.

Land Information New Zealand, which produced the maps, said many tracks were hidden under native forest and therefore could not be seen from satellite imagery.

“We are reliant on up-to-date information being supplied to us from the Department of Conservation, tramping clubs, and individuals,” its national topographer Geoff Howard said.

Blackberry Hunt Initiates SAR Operation

March 1, 2010

A 37 year old Tauranga man sparked a full-scale search and rescue in Tauranga on Saturday evening, when he entered bush looking for Pikopiko. An associate of the missing male contacted police at 9pm on Saturday when he failed to locate his friend after searching for him for four hours.

Western Bay of Plenty Police Search and Rescue Coordinator, Sergeant Craig Madden says the pair had stopped at a reserve on Pye Pa Road, near Maungatoi Rd, to pick blackberries on Saturday afternoon.

“The missing man had ventured over to the far side of the reserve when, unbeknown to the associate, he entered the bush looking for Pikopiko. When he went to return he became disorientated and soon realised he was lost.”

Sergeant Madden says the man came across several logging tracks but was unable to navigate his way back to the road.

“He then came across the main logging road in the Mamaku Forest which he continued to follow throughout the night until he came out on SH5 west of Ngongataha. He was finally picked up by a motorist who dropped him off near Ngongataha.

“A second ride got him to the Tauranga Direct Road turnoff, with a third driver who dropped him off at his home in Judea at 11.30am Sunday morning.”

Tauranga Search and Rescue volunteers were still searching for him when informed by the man’s partner at 1pm that he had returned home.

Sergeant Madden says the man would have walked about 40 to 50 km to get back home.

When asked why he did not contact police or family as soon was he reached the main road, he said he didn’t think police would start looking for him so soon.

Sergeant Madden says police need to be informed as soon as parties realise someone is missing.

“The sooner we can establish a last known point we can contain the size of the search area. The longer someone is missing the bigger the search area becomes.”

Sergeant Madden says the man had no bush experience, but due to warm weather and the fact he had food and water with him, this contributed to a successful result

“If people become lost in the bush, the best thing to do is to remain where you are and make yourself as comfortable as possible, this increases the chances of being found quickly.

“Anyone entering the bush should take basic navigational equipment like a compass, and items such as mountain radios and personal locater beacons can be rented for those going on larger excursions. These greatly increase the chances of survival should things go wrong.

“Although this incident would not have warranted this type of equipment a basic compass would have prevent the male being disorientated in the first place.”

Girl lost in the Amazing Maze ‘n Maize

Feb 28, 2010

A search and rescue was launched yesterday afternoon (Saturday) after a 10-year-old girl was reported lost in the Amazing Maze ‘n Maize near Sanson.
The girl was rescued after she had fallen into a drain in the maze.
Covered in mud, she managed to get out of the drain and was spotted by a local.

Nelson Search and Rescue Caving Exercise goes Satellite

Feb 25, 2010

A homegrown solution that takes satellite provided high speed broadband internet access to rugged and inaccessible parts of New Zealand is to be used for the first time in a caving Search and Rescue exercise in Nelson during the weekend of 26 – 28 February.

The national exercise, held every three years, will take place at Takaka Hill and will be based around a scenario of a lost caver. Over seventy LandSAR volunteers from around the country, all trained cave rescue specialists, will take part.

The unique portable satellite unit will be based at the cave mouth and will provide a vital link back to the emergency control centre in Motueka.

For years, those involved in Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) have recognised the enormous potential value of broadband internet access to remote search sites. This would provide Search and Rescue staff with access to e mail, the telephone network and to web sites that can provide up to date information such as mapping, aerial photos, weather data and forecasts.

Satellite technology has been used in the past for telephone communications, but at a very high cost.

Alan Thompson, a volunteer with Wellington LandSAR for six years, turned his IT and telecommunication talents to the problem and came up with a typical Kiwi Number 8 wire solution: Portable satellite communications based on ‘off the shelf’ technology with proven reliable performance and New Zealand based support.

With sponsorship from Farmside, a rural communications provider that delivers high speed broadband via fixed satellite dish to into rural properties, Alan was the first in New Zealand to develop a system that was fully portable – and could be taken into remote and rugged search locations where it can be quickly deployed without specialist skills to provide vital information that can help save lives.

Farmside were very keen to be involved in the project. Tony Baird, Farmside CEO says the project has not only helped a vital New Zealand service find people faster and save lives, but also provided a perfect testing platform for Farmside technology.

“We have been delighted to play a role in bringing help to people even faster than with existing technology, and we have been able to confirm that adaptability of our satellite delivered broadband – it really does provide high speed broadband in the most challenging and unreachable terrain,” he says.

A satellite dish, a tripod and a box of electronics means search and rescue teams can now have communication from extremely isolated sites back to headquarters and can feed and receive a whole range of information via the IPstar satellite using Farmside sponsored equipment and bandwidth.

Alan Thompson says the huge benefit of the unique portable satellite system is that it opens up the power of the Internet to Search and Rescue staff who are at remote locations in the field.

The benefit alone of an Internet based phone connection to a remote search location can make a significant difference to the outcome of an operation. In addition, remote access to Internet based services such as e mail, Google, Google Earth, and SKYPE put the power of the Internet right at the front line of New Zealand Land Search and Rescue

15 year old swimmer missing

Feb 23, 2010

At 5:30pm on Tuesday 23rd February, a 15yr old male was swimming with his family upstream from the Old Waimakariri River Bridge. The male has failed to surface and police were called.

Off Duty Search and Rescue were close by and co-ordinated a search using boats from the Waimakariri Jet and Coastguard. A helicopter was also used in the search but was unable to locate the 15 year old person.

Police and search teams did not locate the male and the search has been called off for the night.

The police dive squad from Wellington has been deployed and will be resuming the search in the morning

No Sign of Missing Nelson Man

Feb 17, 2010

Police in Nelson are asking rural property owners to check sheds and garages in the ongoing search for missing man Leo Lipp-Neighbours.

19-year-old Leo has now been missing since Sunday 24th January 2010.

He was last seen at about 4.00am that Sunday morning when he left his flat alone and drove away in his distinctive orange Toyota Corolla station wagon, registration NQ7258. Leo or his car have not been seen since.

Police received a number of calls over the weekend in relation to possible sightings of the car, which extended as far north as Devonport, Auckland and as far south as Punakaiki, West Coast, South Island.

Police have followed up on the information provided by the public and have been able to eliminate these reported sightings.

A vehicle located upside down in the Wairau river by a local helicopter operator, on Monday 8th February, has also been eliminated from the search.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Ian Langridge said a large search operation had so far found nothing:
“A huge part of the upper South Island has now been covered by air, road and foot. It’s hard to imagine where Leo’s distinctive car is and why we haven’t found it”.

In addition to the Search and Rescue volunteers walking the main arterial routes over the weekend, kayakers searched the Buller river which is very low and clear at the moment. No evidence was found of Mr Lipp-Neighbours car having entered the river.

“I ask that the owners of vacant properties and rural land owners in the Nelson Bays and Marlborough areas check any garages or farm sheds which haven’t been visited since the 24th January. It’s another possibility we wish to eliminate – Leo may have driven into a vacant property or rural shed and may still be there, which is why we haven’t found him”.

“Another possibility is that his car has gone into deep water along SH1 where the car would not be visible” said Mr Langridge

Any information in relation to Leo’s disappearance or information can be forwarded through Nelson Police.

SAR Members To Give Evidence at Bennington Inquest

Feb 16, 2010

Four search and rescue team members will give evidence at a coroner’s hearing into the death of Te Papa boss Seddon Bennington in Palmerston North today.
The two-day hearing will begin at 1pm with accounts from two police officers and two civilians involved in the search for Dr Bennington, 61, and his 54-year-old family friend Marcella Jackson.
Both died of hypothermia while on a weekend tramp from Otaki Forks to Kime Hut on July 11.
Their bodies were found just off the track four days after they went missing – a kilometre short of the hut and about 300 metres apart.
Four search and rescue teams comprising 14 people carried out the search.
The hearing will continue tomorrow with evidence from other trampers Dr Bennington and Ms Jackson met on their trip.
That will be followed by family and friends speaking about how experienced and prepared the pair were, as well as their attitude to tramping.
At an altitude of 1400 metres, Dr Bennington and Ms Jackson encountered 80kmh southerly winds that brought about snow, dropped temperatures to minus 20 degrees celsius and reduced visibility to almost zero.
Police had previously said they were not carrying a cellphone or locator beacon, but were otherwise well-equipped.
Dr Bennington was chief executive of Te Papa for 6½ years.

Two Hunters Missing in Taranaki

Feb 15, 2010

A search is under way for two hunters missing in North Taranaki.
Senior Sergeant Matt Prendergast said the pair failed to return from a day trip near Mokau yesterday.
A rescue helicopter is flying up the Mokau River, supported by ground searchers.

Lost Hunter Survived on Raw Eel

Feb 9, 2010 (NZ Herald)

A hunter who became lost in Waikato bush on Saturday lived on raw eel before being rescued late yesterday afternoon.

Jared Costello, 40, of Auckland, was hunting with a friend in Pureora Forest Park, west of Tokoroa, when they became separated on Saturday morning, Sergeant Phil Bell of Waikato police search and rescue said.

The friend returned to the bush that afternoon, having recruited another person to help search for Mr Costello. They fired shots to get his attention but could not find him.

On Sunday morning they emerged from the bush and raised the alarm.

A group of local search and rescue volunteers began hunting for Mr Costello and on Sunday were joined by others from surrounding areas taking the total to nearly 70 searchers, plus an air force helicopter.

He was found safe at a road on the park’s outskirts yesterday having made his way out of the forest.

“We’d found footprints in the bush and where he’d made camp Saturday night. Mr Costello told us he had become separated from his friend early on and lost his pack on the second day which search teams had recovered,” Mr Bell said.

“He’d done the right thing by making his way down from the rugged bush by following a stream, from a preventative perspective if he had been carrying a map to go with his compass he may have been able to navigate his way back to his camp but we’re all just happy he’s been found safe and well.”

Mr Costello told rescuers he’d been eating raw eel and did not recommend it as a culinary delight.

Tourist Saved by Texting Greece

Feb 8, 2010 (NZ Police)

At about 9.00pm on Saturday 6 February Police were advised of a Greek tourist missing on Mt Ruapehu. The tourist, a 30 year old male, Marios Symeonidis had become separated from his companion at about 6.30pm and had not been seen since. The tourist and his companion had only intended a short walk on Mt Ruapehu and was he not fully or well equiped for an overnight stay on the mountain.

Police immediately commenced a search and rescue operation.

Overnight the missing tourist e-texted members of his family in Greece. The e-texts stated that he was lost but not injured and at one point indicated that he could see a police 4 x 4 vehicle on the mountain. The e-text’s indicated that he was unable to get to the police vehicle as there was a stream between him and the vehicle. The family who received the e-text’s in Greece were communicating information as it was e-text’d with Police in New Zealand through the Greece emergency services.

Four search teams were deployed onto Mt Ruapehu by foot. These search teams were from Ruapehu Search and Rescue (SAR) and the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation (RARO). A helicopter from Taupo was also deployed as part of the search and rescue effort.

The missing tourist was located on the Bruce Road on Mt Ruapehu at about 10.00am this morning. Apart from being cold and tired from his experience he was otherwise fit and well. He was uplifted and taken to the SAR HQ in the Iwikau Village.

The Greek ambassador in Wellington communicated to the Police Central Communications Centre that he was extremely pleased with the efforts of the Police and all personnel involved with the search. He thanked them for their professionalism, efficiency and efforts in locating Marios.

Found Alive and Well

Feb 6, 2010 (NZ Police)

Missing 48 year-old Campbell’s Bay resident, Grant Atkinson, was found alive and well in Huapai Domain at 8.45 this morning by a Police and Search and Rescue team.

Mr Atkinson was disheveled and slightly disoriented when found but otherwise physically well.

Inspector Les Paterson says Mr Atkinson will remain with Police this morning before being medically assessed. His family has been advised.

“We believe he’s been sleeping rough in the area – though not in the domain itself – for the past four nights since his car was parked at the Huapai Domain on Tuesday evening,” Mr Paterson said.

“At this point there’s no reason to believe anyone else had anything to do with Mr Atkinson’s disappearance. We’d very much like to thank members of the public for their assistance in the search for him and we’re delighted that he has not come to any obvious harm.”

Trampers Airlifted from Slip in Ruahine Range

Feb 6, 2010 (NZ Police)

At about 10.00am the Police Central Communications Centre received notification of two trampers in difficulties in the Ruahine Ranges.

The trampers (a male and a female) had requested Police assistance through a text message to a third party. The third party had rung Police. The text message from the trampers indicated that they were “stuck on a slip face, were ok but not safe”

A Police SAR operation was instigated by the Central Communication Center and co-ordinated from Napier. Police at the Central Communications Centre were able to e-text the trampers in order to identify their exact location and nature of their emergency. It transpired that whilst they were traversing a slip face, the ground became unstable and they were not able to move either forward or backwards in safety. A helecopter was deployed and the trampers were winched from the unstable slip face at about midday.

The trampers were extremely well equipped and made their extraction from their predicament very easy. ie. they had appropriate equipment for the conditions and were able to supply exact GPS coordinates

In one of the final text messages to the Central Communications Centre, the trampers wrote ” Thank you so much for your help. We are sorry to have ruined your saturday”

Tramper Found in Bay of Plenty

Feb 5, 2010 (NZ Police)

A search and rescue operation in the Urewera National Park came to a successful conclusion today when searchers found an overdue tramper in the area.

The 68 year old man had been walking from Maungapohatu to Wairata, and was due to meet up with his family at Wairata on Tuesday. They notified Police yesterday and a search and rescue operation commenced (Thursday 4 February). He was located in a stream at approximately lunchtime today and is fit and well, despite spending a few extra days in the bush.

The head of the Eastern Bay of Plenty Police’s search and rescue team, Sergeant Andrew O’Reilly, says the man become disoriented in fog and low cloud over the weekend, however, he was well prepared, very experienced and “did everything right”.

Sergeant O’Reilly says more than 20 Police search and rescue staff and volunteers and staff were involved in the search, which took place in one of the highest areas in the Urewera National Park. Two helicopters were also involved in the search.

“This had the potential to be a large-scale and complex search and rescue operation,” says Sergeant O’Reilly.

“The area we were working in is very large, rough, and high. However, fortunately our missing tramper was extremely experienced and he knew what to do. That made our job significantly easier.”

Sergeant O’Reilly says everyone involved is pleased with the successful result – and the search and rescue team is now headed for some much needed sleep.

Search for Missing Tramper on Aoraki/Mt Cook

Feb 5, 2010 (NZ Police)

A search is being carried out for a missing tramper overdue in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The missing female tramper was last seen at 7.30am at Mueller Hut on Wednesday 3rd February. She was intending to descend to the village, and hasn’t been seen since.

Aerial searches using DOC Aoraki Search and Rescue staff commenced yesterday afternoon and carried on into the evening, with no success.

This morning a number of teams are being deployed, to search areas adjacent to the route leading from the hut to the Aoraki/Mount Cook village. An early morning team started at 5.30am, with a heat seeking device.

Weather conditions have been fine and hot, and are expected to continue. The overseas visitor was well equipped, had signed in the DOC intentions system and carried a cell phone. She has not signed out, or contact DOC staff.

Mueller Hut is an alpine tramping hut sited at 1800 metres on the Sealy Range, behind the Aoraki/Mount Cook village. It is a popular 28 bunk hut used by both day trippers and overnight trampers. The route is moderate to difficult in places, and around seven rescues have been carried out this season already, mainly people slipping whilst descending to the village. It is estimated around 10,000 people a year access the hut.

UPDATE: The tramper has contacted Police once she learnt of the search. She had forgotten to sign out.

Party of Three Airlifted from Ruahine Ranges

Feb 2, 2010 (NZ Police)

Three trampers have been airlifted out of the Ruahines after being cut off by rising creek water.

A man and woman from Rongotea aged 50 and 35 went into the Ruahines on Saturday with the intention of staying overnight in Irongate Hut and returning home on Sunday. A 50-year-old man from Palmerston North, not known to the couple, was undertaking the same trip.

On Sunday all three tried to come out of the Ruahines but were unable to do so because the rising water of Tunupo Creek had cut off their access. They returned to the hut and stayed their Sunday night. On Monday they tried to find another route over the top but were forced back due to poor weather conditions.

Whilst at the top one of the party managed to get a cell phone signal and left a message for a friend indicating they would return to Irongate Hut.

Police, who were contacted by the friend, reviewed the weather forecast and were confident that the party would be able to leave the Ruahines of their own accord this morning (Tuesday, 2 February). When there was still no sign of the trio by midday a search and rescue operation was initiated to assist them out.

Around 4pm two police officers in the Square Trust helicopter began searching the likely routes to locate the party. Two further police officers were deployed on foot.

The three were spotted from the air on the track near the Tunupo Creek trying to find a way across. After seeing the helicopter the trampers returned to Irongate Hut where they were uplifted by the helicopter and returned to the car park shortly before 6pm. Although they had run out of food they were otherwise no worse for wear.

Police want to use the opportunity to provide potential trampers with two key reminders.

The first relates to communications. All of the trampers had cell phones but none had a radio or emergency locator beacon and it was only by luck that they managed to get a message to a friend on Monday.

The second reminder relates to the weather. Anyone considering going into the hills needs to closely monitor the forecasts and go equipped for the conditions. If weather conditions are expected to be poor the trip should be postponed. It is also important to monitor the weather forecast further afield and not just the immediate location of the tramp as weather conditions in other areas can still affect local water levels.

Search for Injured Kayaker – Hokitika

Feb 2, 2010 (NZ Police)

At around 8.30 pm yesterday police were advised of an injured kayaker in the Whakarira Gorge near Hokitika.

The male, who is reported to have a dislocatred shoulder, remained on the riverbank with a friend whilst a third member paddled for an estimated 2 hours to raise the alarm.

The Solid Energy Helicopter was alerted but was unable to locate the pair in the gorge before the fading light caused the search to be called off for the night.

The search will be resuming at first light tomorrow morning

12 Year Old Rescued from Ruahines

Jan 31, 2010 (NZ Police)

At about 5.30pm yesterday, the Police Central Communications Centre received a phone call from a 12 year old boy in the Ruahine Ranges. The boy advised that he had become separated from his tramping group, had slipped down a bank and was clinging to a tree.

Police commenced a search and rescue operation. Two search parties were despatched. The boy was located safe and well at about 8.50pm.

It was ascertained that he had been with a family group on a tramp to Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Ranges. He left the track for a toilet stop and in doing so slipped about 100 metres down a steep bank. He then became disorientated and the slippery conditions made it difficult for him to re-locate the track. The weather at the time was light drizzle.

It was extremely lucky that the boy had his mother’s cell phone on him at the time of his fall and was able to ring police. Without the phone he certainly would not have been located so quickly.

Search for Overdue Farmer

Jan 29, 2010

At about 2.40pm on 29/10/2010, an 87 year old male was reported missing to Police. At 9.30am he had gone to collect firewood on his farm near Kaitaia and had failed to return. His quad bike was found abandoned giving further concern for his safety. Whangarei Police Search and Rescue team utilising local members of the public located the missing person in bush on his property. He was tired and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed.

Search Underway for Overdue Man

Jan 28, 2010 (NZ Police)

A Search & Rescue operation was launched at approximately 1.00pm on the 27th of January 2010 in the Greenstone River near Kumara after a vehicle belonging to a local man was located on a side road.

The man was reported missing to police on the 26th January 2010 and enquiries revealed he was last seen on the 21st January at a mine site, also in the Greenstone River area.

Police believe he has driven his vehicle several hundred meters up the road from the main mine site, parked on the side road and walked back down into the Greenstone River to investigate other areas of the claim.

This is something he does regularly and he knows the area well.

The missing man is 70 year old Hugh McAllister of Kumara who lives alone, hence the delay in his being reported missing.

Three Specialist Search & Rescue dog teams from the Tasman Police district assisted by two Land Search & Rescue Teams from Hokitika in an initial search of the area on the 27th without success.

Coast Wide helicopters were also called in to assist with an aerial search, also without success.

This morning two Search & Rescue dog teams are currently in the search area being supported by six Land Search & Rescue teams. The teams are made up of Land SAR members from Murchison, Reefton, Westport, Hokitika & Greymouth.

Parts of the search area are frequented by recreational users including mountain bikers who travel the ‘no name’ road north of the Taramakau River through to the Greenstone River. Greymouth Police would like to hear from anyone that may have seen Mr. McAllister or his white well side two wheel drive ute between the 21st & 27th January 2010.

Given the time delay from when Mr. McAlister was last seen, police hold fears for his safety. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

Raft found in Manawatu Gorge

Jan 23, 2010 (NZ Police)

Palmerston North Police are seeking information regarding the owner/s of a raft which has been found floating downstream in the Manawatu Gorge.
The empty raft, complete with oars was first sighted in the Manawatu River at approximately 10.20am Saturday morning approximately 2 kms South of Gorge Road.
The raft is described as mainly white, with dark coloured stripes around it.
The Police search and rescue squad are currently retrieving the raft, and a helicopter has made several sweeps of the area trying to locate whoever may have been using the raft.

Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the raft and/or its owner to contact the Palmerston North Police immediately on 06 351 3600

Search and rescue looking for missing man

Jan 19, 2010 (NZ Police)

A Search & Rescue operation was launched at approximately 7.30am on the 18th January 2010 for a missing hunter near Jackson’s between Arthur’s Pass and Kumara.

The man, aged in his 70’s and a resident of Greymouth went hunting at approximately 6.00pm yesterday and had to cross the Taramakau River to reach his intended hunting area.

He had intended to return the same day, but failed to so.

The search involved two Land Search & Rescue dogs and one police dog, and the Solid Energy Rescue Helicopter.

He was located by the helicopter crew at approximately 10.00am who then directed ground teams to the scene where they subsequently ascertained he was deceased.

There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and the matter has been referred to the Coroner.

His name has not yet been released until all next-of-kin have been advised.

Kayakers who ignored warnings refuse to pay rescue bill

Jan 16, 2010 (NZ Herald)

Debate over whether people should pay for their rescue has been rekindled, as a pair of kayakers refuse to cough up for costly efforts to help them.

The cost of most land or water search and rescue in New Zealand tends to fall on taxpayers, with ACC often paying out.

In some cases, organisations send bills to people such as the two kayakers, who are now arguing that their rescue from the swollen Shotover River near Queenstown was not necessary.

There are concerns that routine charging will discourage people from calling for help, or enjoying the outdoors altogether.

LandSAR (Search and Rescue) chief executive Hadyn Smith says that, “as it stands, it’s a really difficult process indeed for anyone who has been involved in a search to then retrospectively try to charge the people who have been the cause of the search – unless it’s been reckless, or unless it’s been a deliberate attempt to waste the police’s time”.

“But taking it to that next level down, where someone has overstepped their abilities and got themselves in trouble on a track, in a river, on a mountain or whatever, I think most people have a real difficulty drawing the line.”

Queenstown harbourmaster Marty Black said the two kayakers were rescued after ignoring warnings not to go out on the flooded river.

A helicopter, which can cost more than $1500 an hour, was put up to search for the men when they were overdue, and one of the pair had lost his kayak and broken a finger.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council, which underwrote the rescue, sent them a bill for $4000, but they refused “point blank” to pay.

Mr Black said another bill was to be mailed to the pair. Failing that, the council was prepared to go to court to try to get the money.

“We are not unreasonable, but in this situation, we are making a very strong stance to recover the money.”

The country’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre does not bill people for the search and rescue it oversees, and likewise police do not try to recover the costs of operations they are involved in. However, occasionally police will prosecute those whose actions waste their time, and reparations can be ordered by the court.

Mr Smith said the bottom line was that “even stupid people deserve to be rescued”.

“Certainly the discussion has been quite robust over the years over why should people who have been absolutely silly to the extreme not be charged something.

“Perhaps there should be some middle ground – somewhere where ACC is put to one side in a reckless-type situation and costs can be recovered in certain circumstances.

“[But] I would hate to see that as a consequence, all of a sudden we are not seeing anyone in the outdoors because they are scared stiff they are going to be charged for walking out the door.”

Search for missing walker, Rimutaka Forest Park

Jan 9, 2010. (NZ Police)

Members of Wellington Search and Rescue are currently searching for a 45 year old male who failed to return from a walk in the Rimutaka Forest Park on Friday afternoon.

John Lulich left his Sunny Grove home at around 3.30pm. He is described as reasonably fit, but does not know the area. His partner was unable to advise Police exactly where he was going, but thought he may have been heading towards Mt McKerrow. It is thought he did not have a map.

He has little tramping experience, and it is unknown if he sought any local knowledge prior to entering the Park.

He had no food or wet weather clothing with him, and was not equipped to spend the night in the open; it is thought he has his cellphone with him, but Police have not been able to make contact with him via that.

Mr Lulich is European, about 175cm tall and of medium build. He was wearing a white polo short, navy shorts and tramping boots. He was carrying a water bottle.

9 January 2010

A Team consisting of 2 LandSAR volunteers and 3 Police SAR members including a Police dog handler located the male just after 5am this morning next to the Orongorongo River, several kilometers from his home. He was cold and hungry, but otherwise in good health. He had not allowed sufficient time to return home in daylight, so eventually had to stay put.

Outdoors safety code aims to cut tragedies

Jan 8, 2010 (NZ Herald)

Incidents of tourists hiking in rugged terrain in Jandals and running out of food while out camping have led to the development of a NZ outdoors code.

The Outdoor Safety Code has been introduced by search and rescue, outdoor and tourism sectors after it was found that 245 search and rescue callouts last year involved tourists.

Many of those emergency callouts could have been prevented, had people been better prepared to be in the outdoors, said the police manager for emergency management, Gerard Prins.

“We hear stories of visitors attempting the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Jandals, while others don’t carry supplies because they assume there’s a shop on the Heaphy [Track].

“Rather than be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, we want to help ensure all visitors don’t get into trouble in the first place.”

The new code, developed by groups including the Department of Conservation, the Accident Compensation Corporation and the Tourism Industry Association, is designed not only for tourists but also New Zealanders who visit a site that they are unfamiliar with.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Tim Cossar said many tourists were armed with a cellphone, thinking that that was enough in the case of an emergency.

“But we need to tell them our weather changes quickly and in most parts of our remote backcountry, there’s no mobile phone coverage – [it’s] not a reliable method of backcountry communications,” Mr Cossar said.

In the past few years, there have been several high-profile cases where tourists have been killed while exploring the New Zealand outdoors.

Among those were Israeli tourist Liat Okin, 35, whose body was found 1km from a main track in Fiordland in May 2008.

American tourist Raydene Shepard, 70, died while tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in April 2006.

Her partner, Dennis McDougall, was barely alive when he was found by a rescue team.

Police said the couple’s poor preparation – including wearing inadequate clothing and not checking weather conditions – contributed to the tragedy.

Mr Prins said police and search and rescue teams were being called out to up to eight incidents a day during the summer and were expecting a busy time in the next few months.

“Tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone for,” he said.

“Check the weather and be prepared for unexpected changes … It’s common sense, but it saves lives.”

STAYING ALIVE * Plan your trip carefully. * Tell someone when you go and when you expect to return. * Know your limits. * Take sufficient supplies – a cellphone is no good in the back-country.

Search and rescue operation highlights need for right equipment

Jan 8, 2010 (NZ Police)

A Search & Rescue operation was launched at approximately 5.50pm yesterday after a tramper failed to return from a day walk on the 6th January 2010 in the Buller Gorge area.

Mr. Kevin Boyes, aged 48yrs, from Greymouth had walked into the Paparoa National Park via the Hawks Crag Stream intending to return that day.

Police were first alerted that he was overdue at 9.00am on the 7th January by his partner. Shortly after she contacted police she received a text message from Mr. Boyes who was lucky enough to have found cellular phone reception from the remote location he was in.

At this point he stated he was okay and that he would walk out to the Buller Gorge via the Blackwater River, however at 3.00pm he still had not made it out.

Phone contact was again made with him and he indicated he was tired, wet, and trapped by bluffs and the now flooded Blackwater River.

The man was located by the Solid Energy Rescue Helicopter at approximately 6.45pm and winched to safety.

Police would like to again reinforce the importance of taking adequate equipment should something go wrong, pay close attention to weather forecasts, and to leave good written intentions of your route and trip details with a responsible person.

“In this case it was very lucky that our subject got stuck in the only area of cellular phone coverage for miles. Even with talking to him on the phone from the helicopter it took several passes to locate him amongst the tall trees. Without this, the chances of locating him were very slim”.

On a positive note Mr. Boyes did follow some good basic outdoor rules by informing his partner of where he was going, and remaining in the same place once he realised his situation

Special Dog Trained to Help

Jan 5, 2010 (Manukau Courier)

Vader the huntaway-staffordshire cross is a rare breed – he’s one of only three search and rescue dogs in Auckland. Reporter Hannah Norton finds out how valuable he is in a crisis.

When a house collapsed on a group of workers at Manurewa Marae in June this year Auckland’s only two search and rescue dogs sprang into service.

One person had already died and another four were missing.

Initially the dogs checked the perimeter of the collapsed house then underneath it where people were believed to be trapped.

The dogs are trained to bark when they find people alive so when one of the dogs started whining it was a sign it had found another person dead.

Senior firefighter and Urban Search and Rescue search dog association president Brendon Irwin says the dogs are invaluable in locating trapped people.

“Humans shed up to 40,000 skin cells every minute and it is these tiny particles floating in the air that the dogs are trained to locate,” he says.

But even with the recent addition of a third dog, more handlers and dogs are needed for the Auckland region.

The new addition is Vader and he’s owned by Manukau ambulance officer and Karaka resident Nikki Smith.

Vader passed his assessment in October and Mrs Smith is urging more people to train their pets to be search and rescue dogs.

“There’s only three dogs in Auckland and nine in the whole country. Imagine if we had a national disaster – we couldn’t be everywhere at once.”

She signed up Vader for search and rescue missions because he always “looked like he needed to be doing something”.

“He is ball of energy and he’s one of these dogs that if you throw a toy and he can’t find it he’ll keep looking for it.”

So Mrs Smith took the three-year-old out with a friend involved in Land Search and Rescue – which is responsible for searching for people lost in natural environments like bush or snow – and he loved every second of it.

For practicality she opted to train Vader with Urban Search and Rescue as a “disaster search dog” for situations such as collapsed buildings after earthquakes, tornados, landslides and other natural and man-made disasters.

Search training starts with baby steps and leads to practice searches in vacant lots and rubble piles.

“When you start search work the person the dog is going to look for doesn’t hide.

“They’ll be standing right next to me and have his toy and then go and hide behind a tree. The toy is the focus so the dog’s not using its nose to start with.”

Eventually the person hides out of sight and the dog is forced to use its nose.

“If they detect human scent they know their toy is going to be there or that they are going to get a reward.

“Obviously if it’s a real situation the person they are looking for doesn’t have the reward so that’s when he gets the reward from me.”

The next step is to teach the dog to bark when it detects a human scent, she says.

“We had to encourage him to bark … he used to mumble.”

The dogs are trained for around eight hours a week with basic exercises practised at home and search training on Sundays.

“In that session we do things like heel work and emergency stops. Basically when we are out there we need to be able to make them stop where they are and that’s a safety thing – particularly if we’re on a site that’s not very stable.”

Mrs Smith’s job as a full time ambulance officer complements Vader’s role.

“Vader can find people and I can help them. I also used to be a vet nurse many years ago and so if any dogs on site get injured then I can help them too.”

The search dog association works in partnership with the Fire Service and runs a training programme that takes around 18 months.

Has your dog got what it takes to become and reach and rescue dog? Dogs must be:
Healthy, energetic and able to cope with the stress of being around many other dogs, handlers, rescue workers and the noise and confusion of a rescue site
Between 18 months and three years old
Non-aggressive and not classified as a menacing breed in the Dog Control Act.

For information email searchdogs@usar.org.nz

Injured family rescued from Ruahine ranges

Dec 29, 2009. (NZ Police)

A father and his two sons have been rescued from the Ruahine ranges after an accident which left two of the three injured.

A 35-year-old man from Palmerston North and his two sons aged 10 and 12 who live in Feilding, were hunting yesterday afternoon and intending to stay the night in Forks Hut. During the afternoon the 12-year-old boy took a fall down a bluff suffering a head injury. As the boy’s father and brother attempted to rescue the 12-year-old, the father suffered a gash to his leg and the group lost their bag containing supplies and their GPS.

Conditions overnight were cold, wet and windy so the family made a shelter to rest, and this morning they walked uphill until they were able to get a cell phone signal to contact a relative, who in turn contacted the police. This was around 10.20 this morning.

The wind had dropped this morning but visibility was poor to around 500m. The Helipro helicopter from Palmerston North was dispatched to search the area ahead of the rescue helicopter flying from Hawkes Bay with a medic on board. Four search and rescue teams were also put on standby.

Just after midday the Helipro located the family in a bush area around 700 metres from Forks Hut. The 12-year-old boy was conscious and alert but had suffered nausea and dizziness since the fall. He had lacerations to his head and arm and a possible broken arm. The father had a laceration to his leg but was able to walk unaided. All three were suffering from the effects of the cold.

A medic attended to them at the location before they were winched out and airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital.

Police want to take the opportunity to again push the importance of carrying 406 Mhz personal locator beacons as a means of early alert to rescue agencies when responding to such incidents. This would have alerted the Rescue Coordination Centre and Police to the family’s plight last night.

The father and sons will not be named unless they choose to allow their identities to be released.

Concerns for Coromandel man

26 December, 2009 (NZ Police)

Hamilton Police are becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of 78 year old Bruce Wells who went missing from Waikato Hospital earlier today. Mr Wells had been staying at the hospital while receiving treatment for bone cancer, however he suffers from dementia and is confused about his circumstances. Mr Wells is from Coromandel and does not have any family in Hamilton. He has been unaccounted for since approximately mid-day.

Police, Search & Rescue personnel together with hospital staff have been searching the hospital grounds, the nearby Waikato River, Hamilton Lake and surrounding suburbs but have been unable to locate Mr Wells. Police are concerned as nightfall approaches.

Mr Wells is described as less than 5’6” (158cm) tall, of slim build but is in good physical condition. He has grey hair and a short cropped goatee and moustache. Mr Wells was wearing a red checkered shirt, a green shirt underneath and long trousers. He has a small crepe bandage on his left arm and is wearing a hospital wrist band. A photograph of Mr Wells taken approximately a year ago is enclosed which is a good likeness of him although his face is now slightly thinner.

Police are seeking help from the public. If Mr Wells has spoken to members of the public he may have made comments suggesting he believes he is in Wellington.

SAR looking for man who failed to finish tramp

Dec 19, 2009. (NZ Police

On Thursday evening Police were contacted after a 19 year old Wellington man failed to meet his father as arranged after a 4 day tramp in the Otaki Forks area.
He was last seen Tuesday morning at Waiotauru Hut by a hunter.
On Friday two ground search teams from Levin and Wellington went into the Waiotauru Area.
A Police SAR officer also checked huts in the vicinity with a Helipro helicopter, but thick cloud limited operations.
Today 7 more teams of LANDSAR volunteers and Police from Horowhenua, Manawatu, Tararua, and Wellington are going into the area to expand the search. In total 56 personnel will be in the field by lunchtime.
3 Squadron from RNZAF Ohakea are providin

Copyright © Far North Search & Rescue Inc.. All rights reserved. Contact: info@fnsar.org.nz
Website developed by Mental Limited.