Rescue of disoriented trail runner shows importance of personal locator beacons

Nov 07, 2022

A late night rescue of a trail runner in Lower Hutt has highlighted the importance of personal locator beacons.

On Sunday night, police were notified of a runner who had not returned from Papatahi Track in Remutaka Forest Park.

In a statement, police said the runner had last been seen around 1pm near the Wharepapa hut and was expected to be out of the park by 5pm.

Police search and rescue teams headed to the track and were deployed at each end, however the man could not be located.

Around 12.30am on Monday morning, the runner activated his personal locator beacon and he was winched out of the forest by the Westpac rescue helicopter.

Police said the man had become disoriented and was well off his intended route in dense bush.

“While the conditions were calm and not exceedingly cold, the runner was taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia.”

Wellington Search and Rescue constable Pete Cadle said the incident was a “great” example of the use of personal locator beacons.

It helped get the man out of what could have been a “precarious situation”.

“Rescue beacons save lives – it’s that simple,” Cadle said.

“In this case the man was able to be rescued quickly, even though he was far off his course.”

Cadle said it was a timely reminder that anyone who enters the bush be prepared.

“Take a warm layer, extra food, and a PLB is worth the investment.”

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