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Rescue drill becomes the real deal

File photo.

A Tauranga Land Search and Rescue team participating in an exercise stumbled across four lost trampers.

The exercise was being run in the Kaimai Ranges around Sentinel Rock on Saturday.

While searching in a gully, the team came across trampers who had been using their cellphone for navigation.

But once they lost reception they had no navigation ability.

The search team escorted the group to Motutapere Hut where they stayed overnight before being escorted out today by the LandSAR team.

All of the walkers were from Auckland – three women (two aged 29, one 34) and a 50-year-old man.

Sergeant Craig Madden says as the trampers had intended staying in the bush overnight, they would not have been reported missing until later today.

“In the location they were found they would have been in serious trouble, given the weather conditions.

“Although they had good gear they had little experience for the circumstances they found themselves in."

Craig says search teams have had several searches where the lost party had been relying on their cellphone as their only means of navigation.

“Cellphone coverage in the Kaimais is poor and even if you have a GPS, it’s essential that you have a map of the area you’re in.”

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