Backpackers survive ‘Into the Wild’

13th Jun 2012
Written by: Macca Sherifi

Backpackers survive ‘Into the Wild’

Students survive nine days in New Zealand wilderness

Two students from the United States of America have survived an ‘Into the Wild’ experience after becoming stranded by a snowstorm in New Zealand.

The couple were stuck for nine days and survived by rationing their supplies of peanut butter and rice – and warming themselves in hot springs.

Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, both 21, are studying in New Zealand on a foreign exchange programme with the 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.

Alec said: “Unfortunately it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed.”

Temperatures plummeted to -8 degrees celsius and the river became swollen, making it impossible to cross, just like in the film ‘Into the Wild’.

When the two backpackers realised they were stranded, they started rationing their food, which included peanut butter, jelly, rice, trail mix, and biscuits.

Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth

Alec said the nights were the hardest because rain and sleet pounded down on the tarpaulin covering their sleeping bags and the river roared, constantly reminding them of their predicament.

The pair used near-by hot springs to warm up and and conserve their energy.

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

After nine days they felt it was safe to cross the river. Alex said: “We then left and crossed the icy waters only up to our waist.

“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.”

Alec finished by saying: “I believe when you go into the bush you take your life into your own hands and need to be prepared to handle whatever conditions occur. We could have been more prepared, but in the end we were prepared enough to walk ourselves out.”

What’s your closest call with nature? What would you do if you were stranded?

If you want some advice and information on New Zealand then head to our New Zealand country section…

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