20 Jun 2012

Tramper 'lucky to survive' three days in ranges

1:59 pm on 20 June 2012

A man who spent three days lost in the Hunua Ranges in wet, cold weather was very lucky to survive, searchers say.

Ronnie Fong, 36, went missing in dense bush in the ranges south of Auckland on Saturday and was finally tracked down by search dobs shortly before 7pm on Tuesday.

During his three days and nights in the open he endured bitterly cold temperatures, heavy rain and strong winds.

Search co-ordinator Sergeant Dene Duthies says Mr Fong was lightly clad, poorly prepared and didn't carry a compass.

He says it appears Mr Fong lost his way when the track became unclear and was not able to find it again.

Sergeant Duthie said parts of the track were quite difficult, and without the appropriate equipment Mr Fong would have found it extremely to get back onto the track.

He says Mr Fong heard all the helicopters flying around and kept walking, buoyed by the knowledge that searchers were looking for him.

Efforts Mr Fong were made more difficult because he kept moving around, going into areas that had already been searched.

At least 100 people and tracker dog teams were involved in the search.

Sergeant Duthie says Mr Fong has been assessed by medics and, aside from having injured feet, is in good health.