The NZ Herald editorial mulls it over
A party of off-road driving enthusiasts set out in 13 vehicles on Sunday afternoon to tackle a notorious high-country dirt track before it was closed for the winter. The weather in the deep south was already wintry. Snow and frigid temperatures were forecast but the enthusiasts in the group of 38, which included two children, were confident they could make the journey by nightfall.
Late that night when the snowstorm had arrived and their four-wheel-drive vehicles were mired in 2m snowdrifts on the Waikaia Bush Rd near Otago’s boundary with Southland, a rescue mission had to be mounted.
Searchers from the police and the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre were unable to reach them by land and called off the attempt at 1.30am. The stranded people spent the night in the vehicles with the engines running to keep them warm. Next day the storm continued and several attempts to reach them by helicopter were aborted.
The Defence Force was called on but even its chopper could not handle the conditions. The people were facing a second night huddled in the vehicles until just before dark, two snowmobiles reached them and they were ferried to safety on Sunday night.
All that is great stuff. The problem is: why did those people think they could tackle the most challenging conditions at a time when severe weather was forecast? And should this decision mean they pay for their rescue? Read more »