Richmond Ranges tramping tragedy sparks safety reminder

18th May 2023|2min

The NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) extends its condolences to the friends and family of the tramper who sadly died while tramping in the Richmond Ranges this week.   

Media statement: attribute to NZ Mountain Safety Council Chief Executive Mike Daisley 

It is always a huge tragedy when someone enjoying Aotearoa’s great outdoors does not make it home.  

Until formal identification is completed, and more details are shared by authorities, MSC cannot comment directly on the circumstances surrounding the trampers death. However, this tragedy is a timely safety reminder for anyone looking at heading into the outdoors this autumn or winter season.  

The Richmond Ranges, often underestimated when compared with the higher mountains of the Southern Alps, are a challenging area for trampers. The Ranges often bear the full force of strong storms, typically from the NW, which frequently bring heavy rain and gale force winds. The area has large sections of exposed alpine terrain above the bushline, and the steep forested slopes are broken up by numerous rivers and creeks, which quickly become flooded torrents in wet weather.  

Through the summer months it is often very hot and dry, and drinking water can be a challenge. The Richmond Ranges are a remote and challenging tramping environment. Trampers need to carry supplies, and be independent, for an extended period. It is also considered by many to be the toughest part of the Te Araroa trail. 

Between 2011 and 2019 there were 21 people involved in search and rescue along this section of the track between St Arnaud to Hackett Hut, this includes independent trampers (not walking the Te Araroa Trail) and Te Araroa Trail thru or section hikers. According to data analysed by MSC, the majority were injured after slipping or falling, however several have been rescued after either being stranded by rising water or being swept downstream during a river crossing attempt. 

A coroner found Sharny Aaron Abbott, of Richmond, drowned after he was swept off his feet while crossing the swollen Hacket Creek in the Richmond Forest Park in December 2011. 

MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley says the tramper did the right thing by writing their intended route in hut books and sharing intentions with a trusted contact, and this information would have supported search and rescues teams. 

“This is a great example of the importance of leaving intentions in hut books as you pass by, and with trusted friends and family. 

“Sharing your plans, such as your start and end dates and locations you will travel through, with a trusted contact are important steps that anyone heading outdoors should do,” he said.  
Notes to journalists: 

  • This video, produced by the NZ Mountain Safety Council, helps trampers learn what to expect and how to prepare for the Alpine Route in the Richmond Ranges.  

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.  

For more helpful information on staying safe in the outdoors head to the MSC website.   

Contact Communications Advisor Rebekah Wilson at with any other queries.