PLB Rescue in the Kaweka Ranges

wave decor
1 lives saved
Medical emergency
Normal conditions
Rescue location
Kaweka Range - Te Puia Lodge -39° 14' 60.00" S°S, 176° 19' 60.00" E°E
Rescue team
Rescue duration
30 Mins.

What happened?

On the 13th October, a group from the Nga Tapuwae o Taneatua Tramping Club from Whakatane walked in from the road end to the “ Te Puia Lodge”; a hut in the Kaweka Ranges inland from Napier.

With packs for three days of tramping, I, a 72 year old man and regular tramper, was one of the party and I was carrying a 14Kg pack which included a small tent and my RescueME PLB1.

After getting to the hut and making ourselves comfortable, several walked to the nearby hot springs for a dip. I ambled in a general direction taking photos (a hobby of mine), before returning to the hut for the evening meal.

Soon after that in the early evening, I had an incident where I briefly lost consciousness. The others in our party said I looked grey and sweaty, symptoms often associated with heart problems. The incident passed and I recovered quickly, so no further action was taken, although the nurse in our party kept shining her torch in my face through the night to see if I was still ok.

The next morning we had quite a steep climb to the next hut. In the light of my incident, I was contemplating walking the easier track back to the carpark with one of the party who kindly agreed to accompany me, when I again felt briefly unwell.

Our nurse strongly urged that we set off the PLB ,with a further consideration being that helicopter access down any of the tracks would have been much more complicated than at the hut with its open area in front.

One of the party set off my PLB and placed it on a bench in front of the hut. Not much more than half an hour later a helicopter roared down the valley and landed in front of the hut. The on-board paramedic checked me over to see if there was immediate need for treatment (there wasn’t), after which I was bundled into the helicopter with my pack and whisked off to Taupo Hospital, a little more than half an hour away.

Here further tests were carried out that fortunately showed no cause for concern, and I was released into the care of my relieved wife who had driven across from Whakatane.

The Rescue Coordination Centre did a marvelous job of keeping her informed of what was happening and was quick to inform her that it was a grade 3 incident (not life threatening) involving me, rather than someone else in the party, as soon as they had word back from the helicopter.

While it turned out to be a minor scare, things could have been much worse. The exercise showed me again how effective the service is and emphasized the importance of carrying a PLB when away from civilization.

Words of wisdom

Thank you note to the Ocean Signal team