New Zealand mountain rescue services are considering prosecuting a hiker who set off an emergency rescue beacon so that a helicopter could give him a lift back to his car.
The Daily Mail reports that the man, who is in his 60s and is an experienced local hiker, was hiking near the Otoko River in South Westland in New Zealand's South Island on Thursday afternoon when he activated the beacon.
A helicopter flew out to rescue him at a cost of around £5,300, only to discover that there was no emergency. The helicopter pilot, Martin Shaw, said the man told crew that he had underestimated the time it would take him to get back to his car and was struggling to cope with the challenging terrain.
Penalties for the misuse of beacons range from a formal warning to a prosecution and maximum fine of £15,900. Maritime New Zealand is now considering what action to take.
Nigel Clifford, General Manager of MNZ's safety and response work, said that the helicopter was tied up for two-and-a-half hours because of the hiker's distress call.
He told the Sydney Daily Telegraph: "The aircraft was unavailable for any other genuine emergency that may have arisen. While the decision to active at beacon is one that only the person carrying it can make, depending on their circumstances, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It is certainly not a taxi service."
Glencoe survivor tells how he cheated death
Climber dies in Ben Nevis fall