5 Aug 2018

Mt Aspiring rescue: Extended rescue operations not common

11:04 am on 5 August 2018

Extended rescue operations, like that of the Australian soldier trapped on Mount Aspiring, are uncommon says the head of Land, Search and Rescue.

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park Photo: 123rf.com

Terry Harch spent four freezing nights on the mountain before a team reached him on Thursday afternoon.

A break in the weather on Friday afternoon allowed two helicopters to lift the 29-year-old off the mountain's Quarterdeck Pass, along with four members of the Wanaka Alpine Rescue Crew.

He was taken to Dunedin Hospital to be treated for minor frost bite.

It was an expensive operation, said chief executive of Land Search and Rescue, Carl McOnie.

"To give you an estimate, helicopter costs usually fall in the range of $2250 to $3750 per flying hour, then on top of that people's time and all of the rest of it. Yeah, it can get up there."

He said extended rescue operations, like the one for Mr Harch, are uncommon.

The Australian shouldn't have to foot the bill because rescue organisations don't differentiate between New Zealanders and foreign nationals, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Harch's family have thanked the authorities and volunteers involved in his rescue.

Mr Harch has declined to speak to the media, but his family has released a statement through the Australian Defence Force.

They thank the Rescue Coordination Centre, and the cliff rescue teams from Wanaka and Mount Cook.

The 29-year-old has been recovering in Dunedin Hospital, but has asked for no details of his condition to be released.

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