11 Jun 2012

Hot pools helped missing trampers stay alive

11:25 am on 11 June 2012

Two young American trampers kept themselves alive by warming up in small natural hot pools after they were caught in snow near Arthur's Pass.

Canterbury University students Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth became trapped by a swollen river on their way back from their tramp last Wednesday.

A massive search and rescue operation on the West Coast was launched when the 21-year-olds were reported missing, but in the end they walked out of the bush on Sunday afternoon.

West Coast search and rescue leader Sergeant Sean Judd says the pair made the right decision not to cross the flooded river.

"Unfortunately rivers are a major killer in New Zealand and particularly on the West Coast, so we're happy at the decision ... not to cross."

However, he says the search was made harder because the students didn't leave any message about their tramp with friends or family.

He's urging all trampers and hikers to leave details about their trip behind before they head out.