Alec Brown and his girlfriend Erica Klintworth were hoping to spend a few relaxing days in New Zealand. Instead, the two 21-year-old students spent 9 harrowing days stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.
The two students traveled to New Zealand for a foreign study program with the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Earlier this month they decided to go on a multi-day hike to the south side of island. The trip was plagued by heavy rains and a snow storm, and eventually they found themselves stranded on the wrong side of a flooded river.
“Unfortunately it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed.”
Brown said that when they realized that they were stuck they decided to start rationing their food. They survived off of a small bag of trail mix and a few biscuits.
“A biscuit and jelly one day and even less another.”
Katie Jenkins, a friend of the couple, said that she wasn’t worried about her friends until more than a week had passed.
“They were just going to the hot springs, to chill out and study for finals.”
Eventually, a search and rescue team was sent out to the New Zealand bush to look for the two students. Around the same time, the icy river had receded enough for Brown and Klintworth to attempt to cross.
“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.”
Brown said that he should have been more prepared for his camping trip but was happy to make out of the New Zealand wilderness on his own.
“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.”