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Rescuers save 99 schoolchildren after teacher chooses dangerous track

Hirschegg in Austria. Photo: Oleg Brovko, Creative Commons

A wrap of the biggest stories and best writing about the outdoors from New Zealand and around the world.

Rescuers had a huge job in Hirschegg, on the Austrian-German border, when a large group of schoolchildren became stuck on a trail in the Alps.

The youngsters were on a track that’s deemed too dangerous to be included in tourist guides.

Two of the 12-14-year-olds had already slipped and hurt themselves, and some began showing signs of hypothermia, when teachers called for help and two helicopters flew the stricken trampers off the mountain.

A teacher had apparently chosen the track when reading an online review describing it as a ‘relaxed after-work stroll’, without realising that the person who left that review was a seasoned climber. Read more on this story here

Near real-time snow conditions now available

Those wishing to head into alpine terrain this winter have a new tool up their sleeve to gauge the very latest conditions.

Almost real-time data is now available at 10 alpine sites across the South Island, featuring information on snowfall, depth of snowpack and snowmelt.

The sites include Mueller Hut near Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, Murchison Mountains in Fiordland and Ivory Glacier on the West Coast.

NIWA scientists have spent a decade developing the tool and hope it’ll also be helpful to rescuers as well as those planning trips. Read more at RNZ

Queenstown–Dunedin cycleway a step nearer

A $36,000 grant has been given to look at the feasibility of a cycleway and walking trail between Wingatui (just west of Dunedin) to Waihola (40km south-west of Dunedin).

Plans are to build a route here as part of a cycle network that would mean you could ride from Dunedin to Queenstown and Wanaka entirely off-road.

However, it won’t be a quick process, as just the feasibility study could take six months to complete, and that’s before the negotiating and fundraising has begun. Read more at the ODT

Plans for fence to keep wallabies out of national park

Environment Canterbury is considering building a 55km pest-proof fence to keep the likes of wallabies and rabbits out of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

Wallabies are spreading across the country, and South Canterbury is one of the most heavily-populated areas.

“They’re extremely hard to get rid of, they eat vegetation, they’re a pest,” Mackenzie District mayor Graham Smith told Stuff. “They’re travelling. If we don’t maintain it, they’ll get into the national parks – they need to be maintained.”

The plan is to build the fence to stop the spread from the Tekapo river system into the Mackenzie Basin. Read more here

The rabbit that tackles 1200m peaks

From bunnies that are pests to one that’s a hardened tramper. In New Hampshire, US, hiker Chelsea Eason climbs her local peaks with her favourite companion – a rabbit called Moose.

Moose has so far scaled more than 30 of New Hampshire’s 4000ft peaks, and appears to love the challenge, even if she does so at her own pace.

“She’ll hop around, and sit and eat, and take care of herself,” Eason told New Hampshire Public Radio. “But those are the moments when I get to sit, take a breath, and figure out what she’s looking at and what she’s enjoying.”

As you might expect, Moose is quite a hit with the trampers she meets, and she’s started to get a good following on the video hosting site TikTok. Read more here