A Czech tourist found alive in the New Zealand wilderness has told police she had been stranded there for a month after her travelling companion tragically fell to his death.
Police found the unidentified hiker sheltering in a warden’s hut about halfway along the famous Routeburn Track, a 32km trail in in the mountains of Fiordland National Park on country’s South Island.
According to The New Zealand Herald, the woman was taken to hospital for assessment but managed to escape the ordeal with little more than minor frostbite.
According to the paper, the woman had spent three days out in the open following her companion’s death on July 28, before ultimately coming upon the hut roughly two kilometres away.
The exact circumstances of the man’s death are unclear, but it’s believed he passed away four days into their journey, shortly after slipping and falling down a steep slope.
New Zealand authorities were unaware the pair, aged in their 20s and 30s, had gone missing until the Czech consulate raised concerns over their whereabouts earlier this week.
“This is a highly unusual case,” said Inspector Olaf Jensen, the Otago Lakes central area police commander, according to The Guardian.
“It is very unusual for someone to be missing for such a long time in the New Zealand bush without it being reported.”
Searchers located their vehicle at Routeburn Track car park, sparking a search and rescue operation involving ground and air police.
Inspector Jensen told The New Zealand Herald that the woman was wise to have remained in the hut, which contained food supplies, bunk beds, heating and cooking facilities.
“Some of the comments asking why she wasn’t found are unhelpful. No one had been through the area and because of her physical capability, she wasn’t able to walk out,” he said.
“Given her experience, and the avalanche risk, she made the decision to stay in the hut, and that was the right decision.”
She had reportedly made a large ‘H’ in the snow in the hopes of attracting the attention of rescuers.
Previously hampered by weather and difficult terrain, police will resume their attempts to recover the man’s body today.
Featured image: Routeburn Track via Flickr/Flying Kiwi Tours.