Japanese woman on Milford Track to rejoin tour
A 73-year-old Japanese woman who was part of a multi-day guided walk with Ultimate Hikes on the Milford Track, Fiordland National Park has been found alive and well after becoming separated from her group.
The woman was last seen at about 1pm on Friday March 22nd as the group were walking between the McKinnon Pass and Quintin Lodge.
When she failed to arrive at the Quintin Lodge with her group, Ultimate Hikes notified Police and track guides immediately commenced a search of the track and her last known location without success.
Ultimate Hikes also deployed a helicopter with additional search guides from Queenstown to assist in the search.
When the woman was not located by nightfall, Police deployed a Southern Lakes Helicopter from Te Anau with night vision capability, thermal imaging equipment and Police personnel to assist in the search.
Approximately 15 Land SAR volunteers from Invercargill and Te Anau as well as Police Search and Rescue staff were put on standby to commence a full search on Saturday if the woman was not located.
Just after midnight, the woman was located by the helicopter piloted by Sir Richard (Hannibal) Hayes using the thermal imaging equipment.
The woman was on the Arthur Valley side of MacKinnon Pass in thick bush.
Due to the location of the missing woman, she was not able to be extracted by the helicopter so two Milford track guides and Ultimate Hikes General Manager Noel Saxon were dropped near her location with supplies and made their way through the bush to the woman where they made her comfortable for the night.
At first light a SAR crew and Southern Lakes Helicopter returned and recovered the woman who was uninjured.
She did the right thing by realising she was lost and hunkering down until help came.
Police would like to praise the professional and immediate response of the Ultimate Hikes and Milford Track staff.
Police would also like to thank the professionalism of the crew on the Southern Lakes Helicopter for locating the missing woman in difficult terrain.