Couple rescued from ridgeline on Mount Holdsworth, Wairarapa

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Mount Holdsworth is west of Masterton in Wairarapa.

Anita Hendrieka

Mount Holdsworth is west of Masterton in Wairarapa.

A couple has been rescued off the ridgeline on Wairarapa’s Mount Holdsworth after being blown off their feet several times.

After several hours huddled in the cold, a Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) team located the pair late on Saturday, around seven hours after the initial alarm was raised, Wairarapa acting sergeant Richard Butler said in an emailed statement.

The couple planned to walk from Holdsworth Rd to Atiwhakatu Hut and on to Jumbo Hut for the night. However, one wrong turn took them up the East Holdsworth Track and close to the ridgeline.

After realising their mistake the couple attempted to reroute to Powell Hut, but were met with extreme weather conditions and were blown off their feet several times. About 4.15pm on Saturday they decided to hunker down and call police.

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A helicopter was considered, but high winds meant it could not be deployed.

A team of three LandSAR members located the pair about 11pm on Saturday, and managed to get them to Powell Hut where they spent the night before escorting them down to the road on Sunday morning.

The pair were fortunate to have had cellphone coverage, but people should never rely on cellphones solely as their means of communication, Butler said.

NZ Mountain Safety Council

A guide to crossing a river while tramping or hiking. (Video first published June 2020)

A personal locator beacon could be bought or hired and it let people signal for help by showing rescuers an approximate location, Butler said.

Police said trampers should always take sufficient clothing and equipment for an unplanned overnight stay. People should also seek information about weather forecasts, track issues and conditions from Department of Conservation visitor centres or the DOC website.

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