Tramper located & rescued overnight on Ruapahu after fall

Published
22/12/2017

At approximately 6pm last night Police received information that a female tourist was lost somewhere on Mt Ruapehu.

Her exact location, direction of travel and plans were not known to the person who called Police.

She had been in text contact with a friend as she attempted to walk to the summit of the mountain.

After several hours of no contact with her, the friend called 111 as her last text indicated that she did not have any idea where she was.


RARO members carry the woman to the Greenlea Helicopter

While talking with Police, the friend received a call from her advising that she was lost and had fallen and had suffered a serious head injury.

Her exact location was still unknown and all attempts to reach her by cell phone were unsuccessful.

The Taupo Greenlea Rescue helicopter was dispatched along with a St John paramedic, and volunteers from Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation (RARO) began searching high probability areas on the mountain.

Due to the fading light and the vast area to cover, a second local helicopter pilot Steve Ashcroft, was also dispatched to the area to assist in the search.

Just as poor weather conditions on the upper mountain hampered the helicopter search, the missing woman made a 111 call and was able to provide a GPS reading of where she was through her cell phone.

The GPS location showed her to be near the Whangaehu Stream on the opposite side of the mountain from where she had intended to be.

As attempts by the helicopters to reach the location were unsuccessful due to high winds, a team of RARO volunteers were dropped off by the Greenlea helicopter in the Whangaehu Stream on the Eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, to begin walking upstream towards the GPS location.

The RARO team trekked up the mountain for approximately five hours and at around 2:30am located the woman asleep in her sleeping bag lying precariously close to the edge of a large waterfall.

She was cold, tired and had obvious head and facial injuries.

She was assisted by RARO back to a nearby alpine hut and provided with initial first aid before bunking down for the night.

Taupo’s Greenlea helicopter was again dispatched at first light and despite marginal weather conditions managed to reach the hut and flew the woman to Rotorua hospital where she received medical treatment for her injuries.

Initial indications are that she left Whakapapa Village and walked to the summit where she has fallen and received her injuries.

While dazed and confused as a result of those injuries she has begun walking in the opposite direction and down the wrong side of the mountain into the Whangaehu Glacier and downstream, where she was subsequently located.

Police would like to thank Greenlea, RARO, St John, DOC and Steve Ashcroft for their search efforts overnight.

The experience, skill and knowledge of all those involved was instrumental in locating this missing, injured tourist.

Police would also like to remind people venturing into the back country to ensure they have left their travel plans with a friend, and to carry the correct equipment including extra food and water, a shelter, Personal Locater Beacon and a torch.

These things could save your life in the event that things don’t go to plan.