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NZ Air Force rescues Dutch tramper

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/10/2016

A Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter has rescued a Dutch tramper stranded by heavy snow on Mt Taranaki.

The 29-year-old went for a day tramp on Thursday but got caught out by heavy snow and spent two freezing nights at Syme Hut, a Department of Conservation cabin about 2000m up the mountain.

The Air Force was called in because no search and rescue helicopters were available.

The NH90 helicopter from the Ohakea-based No.3 Squadron battled strong winds and a thick layer of cloud to rescue the tramper on Saturday morning.

"It was only in our second attempt that we were able to find a nice, open area where we could land," says Flight Lieutenant Chris Ross, the NH90 captain.

"The man was cold and hungry but otherwise fine. He was certainly chuffed to see us and he was able to walk to the aircraft on his own. We gave him a blanket and lollies and turned on the heater as soon as he got on board," he said.

The tracks on the mountain were covered in ice and heavy snow.

The tramper was dropped back at his car by the Air Force, Fairfax reports.

The RNZAF NH90 medium-utility helicopters and the P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft have flown more than 170 flying hours on 20 search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the southwest Pacific since January.

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