Flooded Arahura Valley Hiking Emergency
Posted on December 22, 2021 by Lein Blaas
Bugger. We had planned to be safely out the bush hours before the rain system hit. It was now only a matter of time before we would be blocked in every direction by rising rivers. Our family of three found ourselves in unexpected difficulty due to the track being washed out and our route obstructed by an impassable bluff. After hours of bush-bashing, trying to find a route out, bad weather was setting in and we were running out of daylight. The rivers were rising and we knew the weather was forecast to steadily deteriorate, with a multi-day red warning weather system on its way. After assessing our situation, we headed back to a river flat and set off the beacon. The blackness of the night closed in quickly. A chopper was dispatched immediately but was unable to land due to low cloud cover. We settled in for a long and difficult night but were comforted by the strobe light on our ACR ResQLink 400 flashing in the dark and a little tealight candle which served as our ‘campfire’. We ran torchicize classes and dreamed up an invisible rowing machine in an effort to keep warm, but as the long night wore on we were becoming chilled to the bone. By midnight the rain was teaming down. We were huddled together under our survival blankets when one member of our group cried out, “There’s a light!” and bounded out into the rain. We thought he must be hypothermic and seeing things. To our astonishment, our surroundings were unveiled, and a person materialised out of the darkness. Before we could fathom what was happening, we were surrounded by four people, like guardian angels appearing to us in the night, members of Land Search and Rescue. We instantly knew that whatever happened from here, we would be okay. They lead us on a rescue operation in the middle of the night back up the valley. Slipping, sliding and stumbling, but safely shepherded by the light of the LandSAR team’s high powered torches, we linked arms to cross a rapidly rising river, before clambering up a steep and slippery route to the safety of a little hut high up on a terrace. We have never been so grateful to be safe, warm and dry. Sheltering overnight with the LandSAR team, we sensed we were in the presence of angels as hail pounded on the roof and flames flickered in the hearth. The next morning the rivers were in flood but there was a window of visibility which enabled us to be choppered out before the red weather system set in. We are forever grateful to the four incredible individuals who came to our aid and the helicopter pilots involved. And we are forever grateful to the family members who, just a few months before, gifted us our ACR personal locator beacon!
Words of wisdom
Be sure you have the most up-to-date information about track conditions before setting out. Make use of hut books to alert other trampers of issues they might be unaware of.
Thank you note
Words cannot express how thankful we were to have our ACR beacon, and also for the comfort this brought to our circle of family and friends in knowing LandSAR were able to pinpoint our location and render assistance before weather conditions impeded the rescue operation.
Arahura & Styx valleys tracks, West Coast 7875, New Zealand
Local Search and Rescue
ResQLink™ 400Go to product details
Small but resilient, the ResQLink 400 has been professionally engineered and tested to ensure it can withstand even the harshest elements. This buoyant Personal Locator Beacon requires no subscription for use and can be utilized to enhance your safety in a wide variety of environments. Whether on land, at sea, or in the air, trust that the ResQLink’s satellite precision and military durability, put rescue in the palm of your hands.
Features and Benefits:
- No Subscription Required
- GPS and Galileo GNSS
- Built-In Buoyancy
- Strobe and Infrared Strobe
- Global Coverage
- MEOSAR Compatible
- Small and lightweight
- 5-year battery life
- 24+ hours Operational Life**
- Multi-function Clip System Included