23 Feb 2023

Ten rescued from ultra-marathon cold snap

11:31 am on 23 February 2023
Helicopter generic

Photo: 123RF

All competitors and officials taking part in an ultra marathon near Arrowtown have now been accounted for after a large rescue operation.

Ten people taking part in the Southern Lakes Ultra event activated their personal locator beacons on Wednesday, some as early as 1am, due to heavy rain and unseasonably cold temperatures.

Rescue Coordination Centre operations manager Michael Clulow said they helped evacuate seven race participants and one official to Queenstown Lakes Hospital.

They were suffering from mild hypothermia.

He said race officials have now accounted for everyone involved in the event - about 110 people.

A spokesperson for Queenstown Lakes Hospital earlier said all were in a stable condition. Southern Lakes Ultra organisers later said all had since been discharged.

Heavy rain has caused the Arrow River to rise, and bad weather was forecast to continue.

MetService said the weather in the Queenstown area was fine when the ultra-marathon began on Sunday, but a cold front subsequently moved in.

Meteorologist Amy Rossiter said the front was accompanied by unseasonably cold weather and brought snow to above 1200 metres.

Up to 60mm of rain fell in the ranges in a 24-hour period, she said.

The rain was expected to ease to showers on Thursday, with fine weather forecast for Friday.