Tramping pair didn’t know what they were doing

So what's the story with those two young trampers Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds who were rescued after 19 days lost in Kahurangi National Park?

Being a tramper and mountaineer of 40 years, I don’t get it. I really don’t.

LandSAR team leader Steve Cottle said the pair “did the right thing by staying put, and getting near a water source was the main thing. Even though it wasn’t high enough on a ridge, staying put was major.”

What rubbish. If they were experienced they should have been able to extract themselves from their situation without the need of a week of effort on the part of LandSAR personnel, who were sometimes winched from choppers into the bush to search, helicopters, the police, Fire and Emergency NZ, and the NZ Defence Force. At the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the public.

Sure, they may have been injured, but it was only minor. Get up and get going, I would have said.

What's more, they disobeyed coronavirus alert level 3 requirements when the rest of the nation was staying at home, complying with regulations, and avoiding so much as a trip out in the family boat on the Rangitoto coastline. Says AM Show host Mark Richardson.

"If these guys went into the bush under level 3 conditions and I was not allowed to fish off the coast of Rangitoto then I'm sorry, but I want the book thrown at them," Richardson said.

He said he was angry and that those who followed the government's requests to stay safe and home under coronavirus Alert level 3 had every right to be annoyed.

"Good New Zealanders obeyed those principles because they were told 'don't go fishing 400m off the shore because you're going to end up getting rescued, everyone ends up breaking their bubbles, and it costs us heaps.'

"Well it happened to them, and that's not good enough."

"I want the book thrown at them!"

Richardson conceded it was great the pair had been rescued but demanded follow up action.

I agree with Richardson. This was a naive pair of trampers who got themselves lost, were too inexperienced to get themselves out of their situation, and just sat and waited.  After their rescue, they revelled in their notoriety. They had been proclaimed as “experienced”, but this was bull shit.

Experienced means getting yourself back to the road end, not spending three weeks hunkered down in a tent on the tops and waiting for a rescue effort that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

What's more the rescue involved a massive collective effort involving businesses supplying cooked meals to rescue personnel and people donating to the LandSAR response through a GiveaLittle page that had raised more than $31,500.

These are valid questions for the authorities to deal with in due course. Chances are, though, that when the credits roll it will be over shots depicting the genuine delight of the rescue personnel involved at bringing the pair safely back to their families.

A rescue that should never have happened in the first place if these two had known what they were doing.

Read edition 979 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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