• Hawke's Bay hunter huddled under survival blanket for 48 hours before being rescued

Hawke's Bay hunter huddled under survival blanket for 48 hours before being rescued

Huddled under a survival blanket for more than 48-hours, a hunter was winched to safety after becoming lost in the Kaweka Range, near Comets Hut over the weekend.

Hawke’s Bay Land Search and Rescue team were alerted to the lost hunter at about 7.30am on Saturday.

Senior Sergeant Andrew Knox, from Hawke’s Bay Police SAR, said the hunter had contacted a friend on Thursday evening and advised he was in trouble and going to make his way down a river to get his bearings.

"Unfortunately, Police did not have the last known point for the hunter, which made it difficult to establish a search area and possible direction of travel."

An Incident Management Team was established and ran out of Hawke’s Bay Coastguard in Napier. An extensive search was carried out by 20 LandSAR staff, a rescue helicopter, a civilian search dog team from Taupo, local AREC radio operators, Whanganui Police SAR, and a civilian helicopter operator from Whanganui.

"Our LandSAR partners were contacted and deployed into the area, along with Police SAR, to start searching, with assistance from the Incident Management Team," Knox said. 

Through information gathered in interviews, they were able to narrow down the search area considerably and located the hunter at about 9pm on Saturday. 

"He had made a small camp by a river, and was found beside a lit fire, huddled under a survival blanket – where he’d been for over 48 hours," Knox said. 

"He was tired and bruised, but otherwise in good health and happy he had been found. The rescue helicopter winched the hunter, along with the search team, out of the area." 

Knox said the search would not have been possible and would not have had the successful outcome it did without their partnerships.

"This was an excellent outcome and the hunter was very fortunate, considering the time he had spent in the bush, with very little supplies." 

He encouraged hunters to always be prepared and take sufficient clothing and equipment for an unplanned overnight stay.

"Police would also advise all hunters and outdoor users to take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with them on all hunting and tramping trips. A distress beacon lets you instantly signal for help and they work almost anywhere in the world." 

The beacon shows rescuers your approximate location, taking the ‘search’ out of search and rescue.

The sooner rescuers can help you, the more likely you are to survive.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand works 24/7, 365 days of the year responding to all distress beacon activations.

The team acts quickly to find out as many details as they can about who set off the distress beacon and promptly send search and rescue teams to assist.