An Irishwoman who was announced missing in a New Zealand national park yesterday has been treated for hypothermia after being rescued by another hiker.
Siobhán Flynn, 35, was rescued when she stumbled into a hut occupied by a US doctor.
The Irishwoman, who usually lives in Melbourne, turned up in Nelson late last night with the American woman.
The pair, who were left without transport, had hitch-hiked to Nelson from Kahurangi National Park.
The doctor had treated Ms Flynn for injuries and mild hypothermia.
Ms Flynn had been missing since about 10am on Sunday, police say.
She and family members stayed Saturday night at a hut in the park before departing for an area known as Karamea Bend on Sunday morning.
Along the way the group became separated. Four members made it to Karamea Bend and stayed there on Sunday night but Ms Flynn never arrived. Her boyfriend raised the alarm earlier yesterday.
It is thought she was knocked unconscious in a fall on Sunday and, after a failed atempt to continue the hike, then spent the night under a tree.
“The problem is, she’s been concussed, so her recollection is hazy,” police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn told the Irish Echo.
Ms Flynn told police that on Sunday while walking alone she fell off a ledge and believes she lay unconscious for several hours. When she regained consciousness she managed to climb back up the ledge but was disoriented and unable to continue far due to darkness. She said she spent that night huddled under trees. She put on all of her clothing and got inside her sleeping bag to keep warm.
Ms Flynn has little recollection of Monday however she believes she made it to Mytton Hut where she rested for a while, replenished her water and decided to continue on. She reached what is believed to be Trilobite Hut about 3am on Tuesday. Sleeping inside the hut was a lone woman tramper – the American doctor.
Ms Flynn said the doctor, and experienced mountaineer, treated her for mild hypothermia and inspected her head injury. The pair then walked out of the area together via the Cobb Valley and then hitch-hiked to Nelson.
Police Search and Rescue Co-ordinator Constable Malcolm York said Ms Flynn was extremely lucky to have survived and to have come across the doctor.
He said she was shaken and traumatised by the experience, but was receiving good support from friends and did not require further medical treatment.
He said that while the group had made a bad decision to separate, Ms Flynn did the right thing by leaving her intentions in the hut log.
“That information prevented police launching a large scale search and allayed our immediate fears for her safety,” Constable York said.
Designated in 1996, Kahurangi is one of New Zealand’s newest national parks and is also its second largest, covering an area of 452,002 hectares.
There are over 570km of walking and tramping tracks in the park, according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.