Carolyn Lloyd and her daughter, Rachel, were found safe this week after surviving four frigid nights in the New Zealand wilderness, and now the North Carolina pair have shared their amazing story of survival.
Rachel graduated from North Carolina State University in December and is studying at Massey University in New Zealand. Her mother visited this week, and the active pair decided to take in some of the New Zealand scenery with a nature hike.
The pair were hiking in the Tararua Forest when they went missing this week, the New York Daily News reported. It was supposed to be a one-day hike through the bush, but the mother and daughter got lost after misreading signs and were still in the park as the sun set. With temperatures dipping below 40 degrees and wind chills making it feel even colder, the pair had to hunker down just to survive the night.
“My wife was frightened to death. She stayed awake all night and held my daughter to keep her warm,” Carolyn’s husband, Barry Lloyd, told the New Zealand Herald.
After staying warm during the night, the pair tried to find their way out in the morning but only became more lost, Barry Lloyd said. As the days lost in the desolate wilderness began to add up — Carolyn and Rachel Lloyd were lost four days in total before being found — their situation grew more dire.
Carolyn Lloyd ended up carrying her daughter on her back in the final days, Barry said.
“My daughter was getting weaker. She doesn’t have a lot of extra meat on her bones and she couldn’t walk so my wife told me she was carrying her on her back, trying to walk back up the mountains,” Barry Lloyd said.
But the mother and daughter didn’t give up on being found. They gathered rocks, logs, and brush to spell out “HELP” in large letters.
As the pair were fighting for survival within the park, authorities were desperately searching for them as well. The pair’s rental car was seen near the entrance of the park, and helicopter search crews were eventually able to spot them.
New Zealand authorities said Carolyn and Rachel Lloyd handled themselves perfectly and showed a lot of bravery in a situation that few others would survive.
“They’ve done all the right things. They’ve stayed together, they’ve conserved their heat, they’ve conserved their resources so they gave themselves the best chance possible,” Sergeant Anthony Harmer told the New Zealand Herald.
Harmer added that many tourists are unprepared for how difficult the terrain can be in New Zealand. He said it is much steeper and more rugged that most tourists are used to in other settings, catching even experienced hikers by surprise.
The search for Carolyn and Rachel Lloyd made international headlines this week, with news outlets in the United States following along as the search continued. When the pair were finally found safe, their grateful family reached out to search officials in New Zealand to thank them.
“My entire family wishes to express our tear-filled gratitude to all the amazing police staff, helicopter pilots, search team members, dog guides, volunteers and news teams who kept us informed and everyone else involved who worked so quickly and effectively to find – and save – my sister and niece,” said Carolyn’s brother, John Schumacher.
“What a testament the wonderful citizens of New Zealand are to the rest of the world, of how people can work together to accomplish such noble deeds. Thank God, and thank you all.”
Authorities said Carolyn and Rachel Lloyd were treated for dehydration, but otherwise were in good shape after being found this week.
[Image via Facebook/New York Daily News]