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Snowed-in 4WDs to be recovered from Otago

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/06/2016 By Cleo Fraser

A group of South Island 4WD enthusiasts stuck overnight in heavy snow last month will attempt to recover their vehicles at the weekend.

The 13 vehicles have been lodged in two to three metres of snow since the group of 38 were rescued almost a fortnight ago after they became stranded during a back-country trip near the Southland-Otago border.

The group has hired contractors who will use a dozer and several trucks to remove the 4WDs as early as Saturday.

Central Otago District Council chief executive Leanne Mash says their detailed plan had been handed to her as part of an application to use a dozer on a public road.

It had been approved but the group would have to pay for any damage they may cause to the road or surrounding area.

"It's all weather dependent though," Ms Mash told NZ Newswire on Friday.

The operation, expected to take about a day, can only be done in daylight and a helicopter will be on standby if the rescue team needs to be flown out.

About 3m of snow has been dumped over the area but good weather was forecast over the long weekend.

Ms Mash said more snow was inevitably on the way and estimated the group had until the end of June to recover the vehicles if their first attempt wasn't successful.

The group, which included two children, spent nearly 24 hours stuck in the vehicles as blizzard-like conditions prevented rescuers reaching them.

They eventually all made it out safe but have received some criticism for attempting the drive when poor weather was expected.

While the group have been praised for being well-equipped with extra food, water and clothing, police have said they'll be seeking a please explain from those involved.

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