My despair by hiker rescued after a month trapped in hut in mountains

A tourist sobbed as she told how she spent a month trapped in a hut after her partner slipped and died on a mountain trail in New Zealand. Pavlina Pizova broke down as she read a statement telling of her ordeal after the death of 27-year-old Ondrej Petr on the Routeburn Track, near Queenstown. She said that after leaving Petr’s body she had to fight her way through deep snow for two days and nights before finding a ranger’s hut and breaking in, to find food and heating. “I made a few attempts to walk out from the hut, but my feet, the weather conditions and the deep snow discouraged me from doing so,” she said. Instead, the Czech tourist decided to stay in the hut at Lake Mackenzie from where she was finally rescued on Tuesday.

After his death it took me another two nights out in the open before I reached the safety of the hut. During this time I got extremely cold, exhausted, and my feet were frozen

Pavlina Pizova

The couple had set off along the 32km trail in July - the walk should take two or three days but can become treacherous in winter. Ms Pizova said they made several mistakes: they didn’t tell anybody of their specific plans, they didn’t take a locator beacon, and they underestimated the winter conditions. “The conditions were extreme. We encountered heavy snowfall and low cloud which contributed to our enforced overnighting in the open,” Ms Pizova said. She was rescued after Czech consul Vladka Kennett, spotted “a random Facebook post” from fraught relatives. Police launched a hunt and a rescue helicopter crew spotted her as it flew along the trail.

She wasn’t confident to carry on but she didn’t give up trying. She tried everything she could, given the conditions

Czech consul Vladka Kennett