From the bush and mountain skills gained during my hunting experience, I was able to be part of my local Greymouth Mountain Search and Rescue Organization for around 10 years. We were a group of experienced hunters and trampers (hikers) that volunteered to be on call 24/7. Often we would get the call in the small hours of the morning, 3-4am to meet in a couple of hours at the local Police Station and be expected to be prepared with a pack for a 2-3 day remote stay in the mountains. From the Police station it was often a road trip to the nearest point of the search area where a search base was set up and a helicopter could transport us into the main search area. Air Force and civilian helicopters were a valuable aid in the mountain areas, but also limited in their use when the mountain weather closes in.
The missing people we searched for were usually trampers or hunters that had become lost and/or injured in remote country. Occasionally we were surprised by who was still alive. One 80 year old tramper casually walked out of the bush track where the search helicopter was ready to lift us all in to look for him. Often the missing had died, or the person after weeks of searching was never seen again because of the rough mountain terrain and large areas to be searched. Exposure from cold wind/low temperatures and exhaustion usually take those that are not found early after getting into trouble.
We were also involved with beach searches when a local fishing boat sunk at sea in the many storms that can rage along the West Coast of New Zealand.
I apologise for the bad image quality, the photographs were originally taken on Ektachrome slide film and later stored for many years on the wet West Coast of New Zealand. I later scanned the photographs on a slide scanner, but many were mouldy from the dampness and after cleaning didn’t process well.
New Zealand Search and Rescue Organisations