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Police praise pair rescued from bush

Akatarawa rescue news
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Police have rescued two men, aged 32 and 37, who got into difficulties in the Akatarawa Forest on Friday.

The men had intended to ride their motorcycles from Karapoti Road to Orange Hut, where they would meet a friend and stay two nights. There was heavy rain in the area on Friday, causing river levels to rise. When the men failed to arrive at the hut by dark, their friend became concerned and raised the alarm.

Two Police Search and Rescue members and a local 4×4 club member with extensive experience in the area deployed to search for the men.

The pair was located about 3am on Saturday, near the bottom of the Devil’s Staircase – a steep, technical section of track in a remote valley.

“They got into difficulty after going down the Rock Garden and trying to come up the Devil’s Staircase. A lot of people have been caught out in that area over the years; it is incredibly steep, slippery, and rutted,” said Search and Rescue Duty Officer Detective Constable Ilisa Higgins.

“One of the men had injured his knee while trying to haul one of the motorcycles up a steep drop. Due to the injury, he wouldn’t have been able to move the bikes up any further and would’ve had great difficulty walking out.”

Police praised the men’s actions after they realised they were in trouble.

“They were well prepared and had built themselves a shelter from ferns to try to keep dry. They had sleeping bags, food and warm clothing with them, and managed to get a fire going before the rain set in. Once they realised they weren’t going to be able to get out, they stayed together and stayed put. They made themselves quite visible and easy to find.”

Along with warm clothes, food and water, police also recommend that people going into the outdoors take a map, GPS and emergency shelter, and make sure someone knows their intentions.

Personal locator beacons are highly recommended for anyone planning on regular excursions into the outdoors.

The men expressed their gratitude to Police Search and Rescue, the 4×4 club member, and their friend who initially made his way out of the bush to seek help.

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