Two missing Americans, a mother and daughter duo, have been found after going missing while taking a hike in the Tararua Forest in New Zealand. Carolyn Lloyd, 44, was visiting her daughter Rachel, 22, in New Zealand as the college student was studying at Massey University as an exchange student. The pair are originally from North Carolina, and in honor of her mother’s visit, Rachel decided to take her on a hike through the Tararua Forest. However, after making it to the summit, the women got lost on their way down, losing track of the trail markers and ending up in the bushland. The mother and daughter would remain missing for four days, only being rescued after a helicopter spotted a makeshift “help” sign the mother created out of sticks and rocks.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 30, 2016
The Daily Mail reports that 44-year-old Carolyn Lloyd and 22-year-old Rachel Lloyd were reported missing after their rental car was found at the entrance of the Kapakapanui Track, a hiking trail into the Tararua Forest, and they failed to checkout of their hotel. The women left for the hike on Tuesday morning and expected to return that evening as Carolyn was scheduled to return her rental car and checkout of her hotel on Friday morning. After getting lost on the hiking trail, the rental car sat at the trail entrance with her hotel room untouched.
After finding the car and realizing that Carolyn had not been to her hotel room in days, police began searching for the missing pair with ground teams and helicopters. The two women would remain missing for four days, starving and exhausted.
U.S. mom, daughter found safe after lost for days during New Zealand hike https://t.co/gdZ5aZcHRo
— SPB (@SPBriefings) May 1, 2016
Carolyn says that the horrifying ordeal began when the pair began hiking back down from the trail’s summit. She says that the trail markers turned from orange to blue and then all of a sudden disappeared. With night upon them, the pair decided to take shelter under a tree and attempt to find their way out the next day when the sun came up. However, even in the daylight, the women could no longer find the trail. Therefore, they decided to follow a stream in a bid to find a way out of the forest.
With the pair making no progress towards an exit, Carolyn says her daughter became too physically exhausted to continue on her own. Therefore, the doting mother placed her 22-year-old daughter on her back and carried her to an area where she could build a makeshift bed out of fern fronds for her daughter to rest. Meanwhile, she found a large clearing and spelled the word “help” with sticks and rocks, hoping that a search helicopter would see the message and send a rescue crew.
Hikers lost in New Zealand rescued after they used sticks to spell out ‘HELP’ in a clearing https://t.co/s123QT2mWz
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 1, 2016
The stick message would end up saving the women as a helicopter flying overhead noticed the word and dropped down to see the women waving their arms in the air. The women were said to be physically and mentally tired. However, they are expected to recover fully. The New Zealand Police Sergeant Anthony Harmer says that the women handled the situation in the best possible way by staying together and conserving the resources around them. He notes that the search effort was “pretty much textbook,” and that Carolyn and Rachel did everything right after getting lost.
“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.”
Back in North Carolina, Barry Lloyd thanked everyone who helped with the search for his missing wife and daughter. He says the New Zealand police kept him informed on all progress being made in the case and that speaking to his daughter and wife after their rescue was “the greatest moment of his life.”
[Image via Facebook/Rachel Lloyd]