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Search and rescue operation finds woman on Milford Track


A 73-year-old Japanese woman who went missing on the Milford Track yesterday has been found alive and well and will be rescued today.

Two Milford track guides and Ultimate Hikes General Manager Noel Saxon spent the night with the woman after thermal imaging night vision from a helicopter piloted by Sir Richard (Hannibal) Hayes revealed her position on the Arthur Valley side of MacKinnon Pass in thick bush.

The woman is part of a multi-day guided walk with Ultimate Hikes. The group, accompanied by four guides, was on the third day of a five-day trek, which starts in Te Anau and ends at Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park.

An extensive land and air search was launched at 6.30pm yesterday after she failed to arrive at Quintin Lodge as expected.

The Te Anau based Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter joined the search at about 11pm after a full land-based search, and previous heli search by Ultimate Hikes failed to locate the missing woman. The Southern Lakes Rescue Helicopter located her around midnight, but due to her location she couldn’t be extracted. By approximately 1am, the guides and Saxon reached the woman with supplies to stay as comfortable as possible throughout the night.

The woman has a sore ankle but is otherwise uninjured.

Saxon says she did the right thing by realising she was lost and hunkering down until help came.

The rescue continues this morning. Track conditions are good and the weather is dry, clear and warm.

The next media update is expected to be provided as soon as there is more information. No further comment will be made until this point.



Timeline
22/23 March

12.45 pm Woman leaves Pass Shelter after a lunch stop
1:00 pm Woman has a conversation with another walker on the track
5.20 pm Guides report to management that the woman has not yet arrived at Quintin Lodge
6.30 pm Ground search is launched. The entire track is covered with main search area between Quintin Lodge and Pass Shelter
6.45 pm Emergency services notified
11.00 pm Te Anau SAR team begins a night time, night-vision heli search
Midnight The woman is spotted, but difficult terrain makes a night recovery attempt not safely possible
1.00 am Guides and Ultimate Hikes General Manager Noel Saxon reach her after being lowered into the area and then hiking through thick bush.

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