24 Dec 2012

UK tourists winched off Waiau Pass bluff

5:47 pm on 24 December 2012

Two English tourists have been winched to safety from a steep bluff near the Waiau Pass in the southern Nelson Lakes National Park on Christmas Eve.

The tourists, aged in their late twenties, activated an emergency beacon at 12.20pm.

A spokesperson for the Rescue Coordination Centre says the tourists were found after a brief search, perched precariously on a shelf among steep bluffs on the southern side of Waiau Pass.

The spokesperson says the tourists had made a navigation error and found themselves stranded, about 1500m above the surrounding terrain .

He says they activated the beacon to avoid getting into a worse situation.

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter lowered a paramedic down to assess the pair, before they were winched, uninjured, off the bluffs.

Tim Douglas-Clifford is the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter pilot who got them to safety.

"We winched them off - they were on a rock ledge," he says. "It was tight".

The English visitors say they are very grateful for the rescue.