A German tourist endured nearly two hours perched on a Cape Kidnappers cliff face before a dramatic helicopter rescue yesterday afternoon.
The 21-year-old from Frankfurt, who wished to be known only as Fabian A, phoned 111 from his perch – a ledge no wider than his backside – and stayed on the phone with the operator for nearly two hours in strong winds and rain.
“I was not moving a little bit,” he said. “I was sitting down and I was afraid to move.”
Fabian said he began his walk to the gannet colony from the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, instead of the correct route – the beach 140m below.
He said he “overestimated” himself and when he realised he was on the wrong track, thought he could take a shortcut back to the beach via the steep cliff face.
“People do stupid things when they, I don’t know the word for it, when you think too much of yourself and overestimate,” he said. “You can get into trouble.”
After climbing about 20m down the bluff, Fabian was unable to go any further and could not climb back up, either. “After about two or three minutes I knew I had to be honest with myself and would have to call up help,” he said.
Clive Community Constable Alan Daly said he was called to the beach, around 200m past Clifton Motor Camp, at midday to assess the situation and called upon local Fire Services and the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter.
Fire Services from Haumoana and Hastings attended and contemplated abseiling down to rescue the tourist. Instead, St John Hawke’s Bay co-ordinator Steve Smith was winched from the rescue helicopter at 1.40pm.
He said the ledge was so narrow, even one movement could have caused a dangerous fall.
“If he’d slid any further it would have been one step to the bottom,” Mr Smith said. “We winched him off in very blustery conditions. He was uninjured so we left him with police.”
Mr Daly said no police charges would be laid, as the operation was a rescue. “He just got some pretty lame directions,” he said. “He didn’t know the area at all and got himself into a bit of a pickle. The main thing is he’s okay.”
Colin Lindsay of Gannet Beach Adventures said it was the first time he had heard of such an incident at the beach
“When you have the walkers walking to Cape Kidnappers and the tide turns they have to take to the cliff’s edge to escape water until the next low tide, but I’ve never heard anything to do with climbing down and the helicopter.”
Fabian said he was “very tired and very happy”, after the ordeal, and would extend his stay in Hawke’s Bay for a couple more days.