Czech Traveler Survives for a Month in the New Zealand Wilderness After Partner Dies

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Here’s a harrowing tale of survival that will probably make a great book or film at some point. Last week, authorities found a Czech tourist who had been missing for more than a month in the wilderness of New Zealand. The woman was discovered living in a park warden’s hut along the Routeburn Track, one of the country’s popular trekking routes. She is said to be in reasonably good physical condition, although she is understandably suffering some physiological stress from the ordeal.

The woman, and her traveling companion set out to hike the trail back on July 26. The Routeburn Track typically takes about three days to complete, but the duo became lost when the trail markers they were following became buried in deep snow.

Things went from bad to worse when the woman’s partner fell off a cliff, dying as a result of his injuries. She then spent three long, cold nights out in the open before locating the cabin, which became her home over the past few weeks. During that time she suffered some minor frostbite and hypothermia, but for the most part is in good condition.

Nearly a month past before the Czech consulate contacted authorities in New Zealand, who up until that point were unaware the couple was missing at all. They organized a search party, but held out little hope since it been so long, and so much snow had fallen along the trekking route. But, the couple’s car was discovered near the trail head, which initiated a longer search that resulted in the rescue.

In addition to the cold weather and snow conditions, the woman faced a serious threat from avalanches. Most hikers are advised to avoid the higher altitude sections of the hike during the winter months for that very reason. It was because of those dangers that no other hikers discovered her living in the cabin over the past several weeks. She was found last Wednesday and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Quite a story indeed. She is obviously lucky to be alive. Thankfully this one had a mostly happy ending, although condolences go out to the friends and family of the man who perished on the trek.

Kraig Becker