American hiker rescued following night in Marlborough wilderness, after being swept down river

An American hiker has escaped serious injury after being swept down a swollen river in Marlborough before spending the night in the outdoors, before being rescued.

Source: 1 NEWS

The hiker was walking south on the Te Araroa Trail through the Red Hills on Tuesday morning, and attempted to cross the Motueka River Right Branch in heavy rain, police said in a statement today.

The man was  swept downstream by the rapid current, but fortunately managed to get himself out. However, he was stuck between two impassable rivers.

Prepared though, the hiker activated his personal locater beacon and was able to use it to send a message to his local rescue service in Texas to say he needed help. The rescue service in Texas then informed the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).  

Police and LandSAR volunteers initiated a search as weather conditions were too poor to deploy a helicopter.

Four LandSAR volunteers hiked to the man’s location on Tuesday afternoon, but were unable to cross the river to reach him.

“The LandSAR volunteers recognised immediately that the river was too dangerous for them to cross,” Senior Constable Reuben McCormack said. “They set up camp on their side of the river, while the hiker set up camp on his side."

This morning, the river level had dropped making it possible for the team to cross and help the man.

Mr McCormack said the successful outcome in the situation showed the importance of being prepared and carrying appropriate equipment.

"Because the hiker was carrying a personal locater beacon, he was able to immediately notify authorities of his location and his need for assistance and he was then able to set himself up in his tent and sleeping bag for the night, and wait until the river was safe to cross," he said. 

"I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the LandSAR volunteers. They provide an invaluable service to our communities. Without their support, the hiker may have decided to try crossing the river again, leading to a tragic outcome."

Mr McCormack said the hiker had not been put off by his experience - once he has replenished his energy and food, he is planning to continue his journey on the Te Araroa Trail.