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Search and rescue incident at Cape Brett

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Two Auckland men aged between 25 and 33 years were the subject of a search and rescue on the Cape Brett track over Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

A party of three men intended to walk the track and stay at the DoC hut at Cape Brett on Saturday and believed it would take two hours.

They set off at 1.00 pm on Saturday and at 9.00 pm raised the alarm as one of them had sustained a knee injury and couldn't continue.

Police Search and Rescue (SAR) were notified and managed to contact the injured person who was able to give an approximate location on the track.

NEST electricity rescue helicopter was called out, but could not operate due to low cloud around the hills.

Police SAR members were met at Waitangi by Coastguard who transported them to Cape Brett.

They were able to get ashore onto rocks in very difficult and trying conditions at night before walking up the hill past the DoC hut and on to the Cape Brett track.

The injured man was located at 1:30am and assessed.

His injuries were deemed to be minor and the decision was made to walk him to the Cape Brett hut.

The party arrived at the hut about 4:00am and was picked up by Coastguard at around 9:00am and taken back to Waitangi.

Officer in charge of SAR Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said that the men should not have attempted such an undertaking given their poor preparation and personal fitness levels.

"They were totally unprepared for what they attempted to do.

They disregarded the weather reports of heavy rain and strong winds, were not fit enough to walk the track and succumbed to fatigue eight hours into the walk.

The knee injury was minor and the person was able to walk out to the hut under his own steam in the end."

Mr Metcalf said what was more frustrating was the fact that only one of the three stayed with the injured man while the third person had earlier taken the only torch they had and continued to walk to the hut where he stayed.

"When they were located they were exposed on a ridge out in the open in rain and wind huddling under a very wet sleeping bag and this could have easily compounded the situation if SAR had not reached them in time."

Mr Metcalfe said the men had no tramping experience and were poorly equipped with little water and food.

"Their food consisted of 10 packets of two-minute noodles and they had less than two litres of water each.

They were not carrying wet weather clothing despite the weather forecasts, had no shelter and had one sleeping bag between two people.

They hadn’t enquired about the walk or the time it would take them to get to the hut, the terrain they may encounter nor did they consult with DoC or pay attention to the track sign information at the start of the track."

Mr Metcalfe said between $5,000 and $10,000 of tax payers money would have been spent on the rescue helicopter getting to two people who were not in real danger.

"SAR and Coastguard personal also put themselves at risk that night to attend this incident."

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