Tramping tragedy sparks safety reminder

Rebecca Woolley sadly died while tramping on Mt AitkenTrack in Arthur's Pass National Park. Photo: Plan My Walk.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council – MSC - is extending its condolences to the friends and family of Rebecca Woolley who sadly died while tramping on Mt Aitken Track in Arthur’s Pass National Park last weekend.


“It is always a tragedy when someone enjoying Aotearoa’s great outdoors does not make it home,” says MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley.


MSC cannot comment directly on Rebecca’s death, as confirmed information on exactly what took place isn’t yet available, but this tragedy is yet another timely safety reminder for anyone looking at heading into the outdoors.


This is the ninth outdoor recreation fatality in Arthur’s Pass National Park since 2008, and the fourth fatality during the spring season. Of the nine fatalities, three have involved trampers.


The most common cause of fatalities in the national park is falling, which accounts for five deaths. There has also been one river crossing drowning, one from hypothermia and one related to an avalanche.


MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley says there are a few simple things people can do at home to prepare, and while out on the track, to make sure they make it home safely.


“Finding the right track that suits yours, and everyone in your group’s, skills and ability is a good start to planning a safe adventure, as is ensuring that track suits the forecast weather conditions,” says Mike.


“Before the trip, packing warm clothes and navigation aids such as a map are the absolute minimum, as well as carrying an appropriate emergency communication device. Checking the weather forecast and understanding how that can change, and letting that influence your choice of walk should be done before leaving home.


“Then sharing your plans, such as start and end times and locations, with a trusted contact are really important steps too,” says Mike.


While out on the track, taking care of each other and sticking together during rest stops, for photos, or to explore the area, is essential, he says.


“Groups becoming separated is a common case for search and rescues, so if someone in the group is slower, adjust to their pace so you stay together and if you do separate always wait for them at every track junction/bridge and keep them in eye contact to avoid separation,” says Mike.


The NZ Mountain Safety Council’s new Plan My Walk app can help you plan your next adventure.

The free app and website helps with track inspiration, before guiding the user through weather forecasts and alerts, any track information and relevant alerts, and a gear list. The new plan page offers the ability to add details to the plan such as group members, a daily schedule and any important trip notes and documents. All of this important information is then shared to an emergency contact and group members.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council has been working for more than 50 years to encourage safe participation in land-based outdoor activities throughout New Zealand. They do this through the development and promotion of safety messaging, by identifying and responding to insights provided by the ongoing collection and analysis of data and by building partnerships with relevant organisations. 

Refer to the NZ Land Safety Code:

  • Choose the right trip for you: It pays to learn about the route and make sure you have the skills for it.
  • Understand the weather: It can change fast. Check the forecast and change your plans if needed.
  • Pack a change of warm clothes and extra food: Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected extra night out.
  • Share your plans and take ways to get help: Telling a trusted person your trip details and taking a distress beacon can save your life.
  • Take care of yourself and each other: Eat, drink and rest, stick with your group and make decisions together.
  1. more helpful information on staying safe in the outdoors head to the MSC website.


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