Lonely Planet Writer

Tourists advised to be prepared after Welsh trekker gets lost in wilds of New Zealand in jeans and sneakers

He’s not the first person to get lost in the New Zealand wilderness, but this lucky tramper made it out alive. An unprepared 24-year-old tourist from Wales set out for a day-walk alone on Tuesday, wearing only his sneakers and jeans and with no raincoat jacket in the middle of winter. He was carrying only a light bag with very little food and no map, compass or torch.

Southern Alps from Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier village, Westland, South Island, New Zealand.
Southern Alps from Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier village, Westland, South Island, New Zealand. Image by Tony Waltham / robertharding/Getty Images

The man set out without telling anyone his intentions – where he was going and what time he was expected to be back. Basically he did every possible thing wrong. The man was walking above the snowline near Fox Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island when he realised he was stuck in the snow and called the police. He was able to be located and rescued but “it could have been a totally different story had the weather packed up,” the Greymouth senior sergeant Paul Watson told New Zealand media. Cellphone reception can be patchy in the New Zealand mountains. This walker was lucky and he was able to make a call to say he was stuck in the snow.

Fox Glacier in New Zealand
Fox Glacier in New Zealand Image by Getty Images

Many tourists to New Zealand underestimate the country they’re entering when walking in New Zealand’s picturesque wilderness. These are not mountains dotted with villages; the forest is often very dense and a few metres from the path can lead to total disorientation; and on smaller islands weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.

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New Zealand’s popularity is hitting an all-time high with around 3.5 million visitors arriving in the last 12 months, up almost 10% on the previous year. Getting key messages out about safe travel in New Zealand has been a focus for the government in recent years with tourists getting lost on walking trails and being involved in a disproportionate number of motoring accidents.
You’ve been warned. Go hiking but go prepared.