Lifestyle & Belief

New Zealand cops chide American students who went missing


A view of the Southern Alps on July 28, 2011 in Wanaka, New Zealand.


Cameron Spencer

Two American students have been criticized by New Zealand authorities for being unprepared and getting lost for nine days in the country's Southern Alps and triggering an expensive search operation.

Erica Klintworth and Alec Brown, both University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students aged 21, had embarked on a hike June 1 wearing only hoodies, according to

The pair reportedly survived their ordeal — made more dangerous by heavy rains and a snowstorm in the Southern Hemisphere winter — by rationing trail mix and warming themselves in hot springs.

"We were wearing hoodies, and like, just not the type of thing that you want to be wearing and have when you're stuck in a mountain storm," the IBTimes cited Klintworth as saying. 

"But I think when it came down to it, we were a lot more prepared than everybody thought."

New Zealand police disagreed, and criticized the pair, saying an expensive search operation could have been avoided if they had left written intentions.

"It is frustrating. I mean, there's a lot of work gone into this operation. You know, taxpayers' dollars, the use of a helicopter, and obviously, you know, the search and rescue volunteers that we use. A lot of their time's been used up over the weekend, and you know, perhaps needlessly," Sergeant Sean Judd said.

They also could have been better prepared for the weather, Judd reportedly said.

Brown said it wasn't until the pair attended a debriefing that "we found out what a big deal all this was."

"We were climbing the mountains under the dense tree cover when we first heard the helicopter we assumed was looking for us," he said, the Associated Press reported.

"The copter never saw us and we walked out just fine and met up with the search and rescue by the road."

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