Students Survive and Manage to Drink a Beer or Two while Trapped in New Zealand Blizzard for 9 Days


Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, didn’t have the average study abroad experience in New Zealand.

On June 1, they told friends they were going to seek out some hot springs on the nation’s southern island t0 camp and study for final exams for a few days. However, snowstorms (New Zealand’s winter lasts from June to September, as it is in the Southern Hemisphere), pounding rain and other inclement weather prevented the couple from returning and they became stranded.

They were forced to subsist on carrots, rice, peanut butter, trail mix, jelly, and few biscuits for nine days – supplies for a single meal. By the end they had rationed their food to one jellied biscuit per day.

The warmest article of clothing each of them was wearing was a hoodie. However, they had a plastic hammock they used to keep warm.

After nine days of using the hot springs to keep warm, the two returned to the ciy of Christchurch after meeting up with members of a search team. They were famished and exhausted but otherwise in good shape.

“We then left and crossed icy waters only up to our waist,” said Brown to USA Today. “We were climbing the mountains under the dense tree cover when we first heard the helicopter we assumed it was looking for us. The copter never saw us and we walked out just fine and met up with the search and rescue by the road.”

Klintworth had this to say of the ordeal: “Clearly we were pretty comfortable where we were and survived it no problem. We had all the right gear to get through it. We had clean fresh water and stayed warm and dry.”

Brown and Klintworth will complete their study abroad program in the near future and they are expected to be home in a couple of weeks.

UWSP students survive 9 days in New Zealand bush:

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