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Kayaker's 12-hour trek to save mate

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/02/2017

A kayaker has been rescued from a near-drowning on a river near Lake Taupo after his friend revived him before going on a 12-hour mission to get help.

The pair got in trouble while on the Tauranga-Taupo River on Monday afternoon after one landed badly after going over a 25m waterfall, "getting knocked out and submerged in the water", police say.

The 25-year-old, from Okere Falls, was pulled from the water by his kayaking partner, who then performed CPR, "reviving him and saving his life".

They continued paddling downstream but missed an exit point and couldn't turn back.

The pair stopped and lit a fire before the uninjured kayaker climbed a 100m bank and walked 5km down a forestry road to find cellphone reception.

About midnight, nearly nine hours after the accident, he managed to call for help.

"Wet, cold, disorientated, injured and coughing blood, the injured kayaker had to wait on his own with no knowledge of when a rescue might come," police said.

After a two-hour search by Land Search and Rescue, police and St John's, a crew from a Greenlea Rescue Helicopter managed to spot the man using night-vision goggles, thanks to his headlamp.

The injured man was found by the fire on the edge of the river about 3am.

The hurt man is now recovering in Taupo Hospital and will be moved to Rotorua later in the day, police said.

The men could have saved themselves hours of distress with a locator beacon, says Senior Constable Barry Shepherd.

"Luckily these two were so fortunate on this occasion, and they had the right knowledge and just enough emergency gear on them to make it out alive."

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