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Tourists safely return after getting lost in the mountains

Monday 22 August 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, National

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Tourists safely return after getting lost in the mountains
The sign showing the way to the popular cross island walk. Picture: Photo: AWAY WITH THE STEINERS/22082101

Police have interviewed a couple of tourists who have emerged unscathed from a night in the mountains after getting lost on Friday.

According to a statement, the pair was trekking near the Needle during the late Friday morning but became disoriented, losing their way and getting stranded by darkness. 

“An alert had been made to Police although an SAR (search and rescue) team wasn’t able to locate the man and woman, early Saturday,” police said.

They were eventually able to make their own way down to Avatiu Valley, Saturday afternoon.

“The visitors were subsequently interviewed by Police at National Headquarters.”

Efforts to get comments on what the interview was about proved futile yesterday.

In July last year authorities were weighing up options including possible penalties after an elderly couple had to be rescued when they slipped off the Cross-Island Trek.

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt then said police will be taking up possible recommendations to improve the oversight of mountain treks, including what penalties, if any should apply, following the incident in July, 2021.

“While there has been a lengthy absence of SAR incidents, the return of tourists has clearly opened the scope for emergency rescues,” Pitt earlier said.

While penalties were being considered, other options included possible age and time restrictions on the trek, and guided walks only, Pitt added.

“From a police perspective, resources are critical and safety is paramount; as much effort as practicable from stakeholders should go into preventive measures, such as clear advice and robust awareness of the risks, what we don’t want is to wait for a tragedy.”

Liana Scott, the president of the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council, earlier said: “At times tourists who trek overseas look at the distance rather than the terrain and underestimate that our treks are generally kept in its natural state and therefore not cleared regularly.”

“There have been posters issued by the Tourism office previously – safety both on land and in the water, and perhaps with the island being at almost peak capacity, consideration be given to reigniting and updating property owners and the public on general safety measures.”