Two US students survive nine days stranded in New Zealand wilderness


Two US students survive nine days stranded in New Zealand bushAP

Two US students trapped in the New Zealand wilderness by a snowstorm survived for nine days by rationing their supplies of peanut butter and rice - and warming themselves in hot springs.

Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, both 21, are on a foreign study programme in New Zealand with University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

They had planned to hike and camp for a few days at some hot springs in the South Island, but heavy rain and a snowstorm meant they could not cross a river to get back to Christchurch.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Brown said: "Unfortunately it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed."

When the pair realised they were stuck, they started rationing their food, which included peanut butter, rice, trail mix, and biscuits.

He said the nights were the worst as rain and sleet hammered their tarpaulin, and the river roared threateningly beside them.

But soaking in the hot springs, he said, "helped keep us warm and slow energy loss".

Two US students survive nine days stranded in New Zealand bushAP

The couple's ordeal started o 1 June when friend Katie Jenkins dropped them off at a national park on the South Island's West Coast.

She said they were just going to chill out and study for their final exams, and she continued with her own travels.

Miss Jenkins did not realise they were missing for a further eight days, when she raised the alarm,

Police Sgt Sean Judd co-ordinated the rescue, and search teams and a helicopter were sent out looking for them.

According to the Independent, Mr Brown's mother Lisa, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, said she panicked when she first found out her son was missing.

"It's too much for a mum," she told the AP. "Especially when they're that far away. I just felt so helpless."

She had faith that her son, an environmental science major, knew the outdoors well enough to survive, she said, adding that Miss Klintworth, who is studying graphic design, is a strong woman.

Mr Brown said it was not until Sunday that the river finally seemed safe enough to cross again. He and Miss Klintworth prepared for their hike out by cooking up a "good meal" of rice, marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate, he said.

"We then left and crossed the icy waters only up to our waist," he said. "We were climbing the mountains under the dense tree cover when we first heard the helicopter we assumed was looking for us. The copter never saw us and we walked out just fine and met up with the search and rescue by the road."

Sgt Judd said the couple were famished but in good shape.