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Mokihinui River: Search and Rescue

New Zealand Police Alert 07:00 11-01-2008 Tasman

Location of incident: North West Coast, South Island

Incident Type: Search and Rescue

On the 9th of January 2007 at approximately 8.00pm police commenced a Search & Rescue operation in the upper Mokihinui River after concerns were raised for the safety of a man in his sixties who was traveling alone and ill equipped.

Another party in the area first encountered the man, and passed the information on to a local helicopter pilot who in turn contacted police.

The man was reported to have no equipment or food.

Police and a local search & rescue volunteer from Karamea, flew in with Karamea Heli Charter to locate and uplift the man. They reported he was 'Very happy to see them'.

Juergen Ahrens, 69yrs of age and formally from Germany now living in New Zealand, had left his vehicle in the Lyell Car Park last Thursday and had headed into the Kahurangi National Park for a day walk. He was interested in the areas mining history.

Concerns were raised earlier this week regarding the vehicle, but without any information or intentions there was little police could do.

'It is very disappointing to see people continue to ignore the basic safety rules. In this case every rule in the book was broken. Mr. Ahrens had no food, no adequate clothing, no shelter, no navigation equipment including a map of the area, traveled alone, and left no intentions with anyone incase something went wrong'.

'It was sheer luck that he stumbled into the other party, who offered Mr. Ahrens assistance and food, or this incident may have had a different ending'.

Unfortunately he did want to stay with them and continued on with the intention of making his way back to the Lyell, a task he admits he would have struggled to complete.

Mr. Ahrens stated that he had not eaten properly for some days and was understandably hungry as a result, but was otherwise okay. He did not require medical attention.

He did have fire lighting equipment with him and managed to get a fire going to keep him warm at night.


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