You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Stranded 4WD group embarrassed: rescuer

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/05/2016

A group of 4WD enthusiasts stranded overnight in a blizzard in the South Island were hungry, thankful and embarrassed by the time rescuers reached them.

The group of 38, including two children, spent nearly 24 hours stuck in their 13 vehicles after being hit by heavy snow during a day trip on an off-road track near the Southland-Otago border on Sunday.

Attempts to reach them by helicopter failed due to severe weather but eventually rescuers were able to rescue them by using snowcats and transfer them to safety at Roxburgh.

"Some of them hadn't slept for 36 hours ... they were pretty tired and hungry when they got down," Central Otago 4WD Club spokesman Brent Wilson, who drove some of the group from the snowline to Roxburgh, told NZ Newswire.

"They were very thankful and a bit embarrassed."

While the group have been praised for being well-equipped with extra food, water and clothing, police will be seeking a please explain from the group.

"We'll be speaking to the group that went up there and just seeing what the arrangements were before they left," said Inspector Olaf Jensen.

Mr Wilson, who has driven on the "extreme" track several times himself, says the group should've paid closer attention to the weather but acknowledged conditions can change without warning.

"It's a track you have to respect," he said.

"The last half a dozen times (I've been there) the sun has been out and then suddenly there's a blizzard.

"But (the weather that hit the group was) more extreme than we've ever struck.

"To get them all out safe and well without injuries was pretty remarkable."

Mr Wilson had been involved in several rescue missions and he said they happen more often than people realised.

Winton man Daniel Cockery told the Otago Daily Times they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He praised their rescuers.

"We were well equipped. But obviously we got caught up in the weather so there was not much else we could do about that," he told the paper.

The 4WD track where the group become stuck, known as the Old Man Range, sits about 1500 metres above sea level at its highest point and was hit by up to 1.8m of snowfall on Sunday and Monday.

The 13 stranded vehicles, covered in snow and ice, will remain where they are until the group can recover them.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon