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Police warn trampers using cellphones to navigate

Police are warning trampers of the dangers of using their cellphones for navigation after four people were rescued from the Kaimai Ranges on Saturday, May 19.

The group became lost near Motutapere Hut after using their cellphone to navigate and losing reception in a gully.

By chance, the group was found by a Tauranga Land Search and Rescue Team who were conducting a training exercise in the area and stumbled across the lost trampers.

The search team escorted the group to Motutapere Hut where they stayed overnight before being escorted out by the LandSAR team.

All of the walkers were from Auckland – three women (two aged 29, one 34) and a 50-year-old man.

Sergeant Craig Madden said the trampers had intended staying in the bush overnight and so wouldn’t have been reported missing until later Sunday.

“In the location they were found, they would have been in serious trouble, given the weather conditions,” Madden said. “Although they had good gear they had little experience for the circumstances.”

Madden said there had been several searches where the lost party had been relying on their cellphone as their only means of navigation.

“Cellphone coverage in the Kaimais is poor and even if you have a GPS, it’s essential that you have a map of the area you’re in.”