The tramper found after three days lost in bush south of Auckland should have left written intentions and taken an emergency communication device, the Mountain Safety Council says.
Thirty-eight-year-old Ronnie Fong had been missing in the Hunua Ranges since Saturday, and was found by search and rescue teams last night.
The Mountain Safety Council says it is thankful he has been found alive and in reasonably good condition.
However, the incident serves as another reminder to all outdoors enthusiasts to leave written intentions of where they are going, including a time and date to raise the alarm if they have not returned, said Darryl Carpenter, the council's Chief Executive.
Fong did a number of things right including texting his family to indicate he would be late meeting them at a predetermined pickup point, Carpenter said. When he did not arrive later that evening, his family contacted the authorities.
What would have been even better though is if the family could have presented the search and rescue team with written details of Fong's trip intentions, he said.
This information can point rescuers in the right direction, narrow down search areas and speed up the likelihood of being found, Carpenter said.
The council also recommends a form of emergency communication such as a personal locator beacon (PLB) is carried, especially if walking, tramping or hunting alone.
Cellphone coverage is not guaranteed in some areas, especially rural and remote backcountry locations, Carpenter pointed out.
When venturing into the bush, whether it is an intended half-day tramp as in Fong's case or a multi-day adventure, it is essential to plan and prepare by following the five simple rules of the outdoor safety code, he said.
The five rules are plan your trip thoroughly, tell someone, be aware of the weather, know your limits and take sufficient supplies.
Mud and ferns use to fight off chill
Fong tried to use ferns and mud to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures.
Saturday night was the coldest of the year so far, with temperatures in the park dropping to minus three degrees.
Sergeant Dene Duthie from Search and Rescue told ONE News Fong tried various methods to fight off the chill.
"The first night was extremely cold out there so he struggled to keep warm," he said.
"What he did was cover himself with frongs and mud to create an insulation layer but that failed so he got up and kept moving to keep warm."
Fong was lightly dressed when he went into the Hunua Ranges for a day walk on Saturday morning wearing only shorts, a t-shirt and a light jacket.
His family were concerned that he did not have much gear with him as temperatures dropped, but Duthie said he was better prepared than first thought.
"He actually had a few more shirts and a water proof jacket and a bit more food as well so that was in his favour."
Also in his favour were the weather conditions which improved after that first freezing night, Duthie described them as mild but a bit wet.
When Fong was found, at around 7pm, he was still walking and cold but was well enough to go straight back home to his family.
"His feet are in quite bad condition they've been wet for the three days," Duthie said, adding that Fong was to be checked out by a doctor this morning.
It is believed he got lost after following a bait line, away from the marked track, which led him down to a stream.
"He obviously couldn't back trace his steps and from the stream he tried to trace his way out," Duthie said.
"He was very determined to make his own way out and he knew he had to survive and that was good because it kept him going."
Fong is a bio-engineer at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, having moved to New Zealand from Fiji 18 years ago.
Walkers, trampers, hunters and climbers can visit AdventureSmart for useful tips on outdoor safety and details about how to leave your intentions.
For further information about safety in the outdoors, courses and training, information on outdoors intentions or communication devices, visit New Zealand Mountain Safety Council .