The Rescue Coordination Centre has condemned a tramper who activated his emergency locator beacon because he was running late and wanted a ride to his car.
A helicopter was dispatched from Greymouth at 4:30pm yesterday after the 60-year-old man activated his beacon during a tramp near the Otoko River, south-west of Fox Glacier.
He was located and found uninjured, telling rescuers he had lost track of time and needed to get back to the carpark.
His behaviour is being denounced “entirely inappropriate, potentially dangerous, and a clear breach of the radio regulations” by rescue manager Nigel Clifford.
“The incident tied up a helicopter for around two and a half hours, at a cost of around $10,000 to taxpayers, and more importantly meant that aircraft was unavailable for any other genuine emergency that may have arisen,” he says.
Mr Clifford says they are considering what further action will be taken. Punishments range from a $250 infringement penalty, to prosecution, which carries a maximum fine of $30,000.