Group rescued after a night stuck in blizzard
Hot pies and tea await dozens of people rescued after spending the night stuck in snow in a remote area of New Zealand’s South Island.
The group of 38, including several children, were on a back country 4WD trek when they become stranded in blizzard-like conditions on an off-road track near the Southland-Otago border on Sunday night.
Severe weather hampered rescue attempts and there were growing concerns the group was running low on fuel.
But police confirmed on Monday afternoon that rescuers had reached the group, who are all safe and well, and they were being moved to the snowline on board snowcats.
They will then be taken by road to nearby Roxburgh where an emergency response unit has been set up.
Simon Smith from the Red Cross says they will be checked over by paramedics before being handed pies and hot drinks.
‘I imagine they’ll be pretty relieved – especially given the state of the weather,” he told AAP.
The group is reportedly from Invercargill and Winton.
Gemma Dodds, who was in one of the vehicles with her two young children, wrote on Facebook that the group was safe and well but was worried fuel supplies were running low.
Others photos on social media show some of the 13 vehicles covered in snow and ice.
A helicopter made an attempt to reach the group earlier but had to turn back because of severe weather.
Brent Wilson from the Central Otago 4WD Club told AAP earlier on Monday he was about to head out to help with the rescue mission.
He knew the group and said they were capable and experienced but had been hit by bad weather.
Although they had only set out for the day, police said they were well-equipped with extra food, water, clothing and other supplies.
Mr Wilson described the road, about 1500 metres above sea level at its highest point, as “pretty extreme”, saying it had deteriorated in some spots.