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Source: Maritime New Zealand

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) received an alert from a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) at 9.45pm last night with a position near to the Main Huxley Forks Hut in North Otago.

The beacon was registered to the University of Otago and enquiries found that the PLB had been hired to a group of eight University staff and students who were aiming to reach the hut yesterday.

Conditions overnight were not safe for a SAR helicopter response and a LandSAR team was assembled and sent in to the location of the PLB signal.

The LandSAR team found the party of eight at the Huxley River, approximately 1.5 km from the hut early this morning. Two females were found to be slightly hypothermic and were treated by the SAR team. The trampers had been unable to reach the hut due to heavy snow in the area.

The Helicopter Line from Mt Cook has picked up both the LandSAR and tramping parties and by 8am this morning, all were safely returned to the carpark where they started out from.

Chris Henshaw, Search and Rescue Officer from RCCNZ said “this group did the right thing and organised two PLBs to take with them on this trip. It allowed us to respond immediately and locate them quickly. This incident also acts a reminder to thoroughly consider the weather report before heading off as it appears that the amount of snow caught this group out”.

RCCNZ worked with local Police at Omarama to organise and prep the LandSAR team before the team headed in. An EMS helicopter from Queenstown was placed on standby as well as the Mt Cook ACR team however where stood down once the LandSAR reached the group and established they were not needed.

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