News

Aussie tourist rescued after 30 hrs thought he would die

Robert Galdamez was located in the early hours of this morning by a search party.
Robert Galdamez was located in the early hours of this morning by a search party.

The Australian tourist rescued on Ben Lomond, near Queenstown, early this morning didn't think he was going to survive.

Police said a volunteer search and rescue team found 25-year-old Robert Galdamez wet and cold, just before 12.30am, near the summit of Ben Lomond.

He was taken to Lakes District Hospital with moderate hypothermia.

Doctors said he arrived hungry and hypothermic this morning- but is quickly recovering.

He is in a stable condition and will likely be discharged today.

He is yet to speak with police about his ordeal.

About 20 search and rescue staff, with dogs and a helicopter equipped with night vision, comb the mountain last night.

Galdamez had been missing for about 30 hours.

Queenstown as seen from the top of the Skyline gondola. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Queenstown as seen from the top of the Skyline gondola. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Earlier, his partner Tim Heritage said Galdamez was no stranger to tramping, but he was ''fearing the worst''.

Queenstown police launched a search and rescue operation on Tuesday night, after Galdamez failed to return from a day walk up Ben Lomond.

Senior Constable Terry Wood, of Queenstown, said Galdamez was last seen by his associate just after 3pm.

Galdamez and a friend had arrived in Queenstown on Monday and were scheduled to return to Australia on Saturday.

Heritage understood the pair had initially intended to walk Ben Lomond, above the Skyline complex.

''Apparently his friend only walked 30 minutes with him and didn't want to go any further, or couldn't or something, so she turned back and he went off.

''While he was walking up the mountain I was at work and I was kind of talking to him while working.''

Heritage said Galdamez had sent him some photos of ''up the top'' of Ben Lomond as well as videos of him walking up.

''It looked pretty windy,'' Heritage said.

''He did say he was getting scared and I kept asking him 'Are you all right?' and he didn't respond to my messages.''

After an hour without a response from Galdamez, Heritage contacted the tourist's friend, who said she had tried to video-chat with the missing man, but either something went wrong with the internet, or the battery on his iPad - from which he had been messaging - ran out.

Galdamez, who had been planning to trek to Everest Base Camp in December, had a history of epilepsy, Heritage said.

Galdamez was of El Salvadorean and Laotian descent, but born in Australia.

Wakatipu Tramping Club member Peter Dymock told the ODT it was ''hard to understand'' how anyone could wander off the Ben Lomond track.

The peak, almost 1750m above sea level, was a popular attraction for residents and tourists, accessible either via the One Mile Creek track, or from the top of the Skyline complex.

Dymock said the track from Skyline, where Galdamez had left, was well marked, had a good ground trail and was signposted.

Although it was ''quite steep in places'', he expected a person of average fitness would be able to complete the return trip to Skyline within four or five hours.

A side track led to Moke Lake and although it was ''not obvious'', it was signposted.

Wood said that Galdamez did not have food with him, had very little water and was wearing blue shoes, black sports leggings and a dark green puffer jacket.

Topics:  new zealand rescue tourist


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Oops, we've broken into the wrong business

Generic Rockhampton Court.   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin

How this break-in went wrong for this CQ crim

Biloela family lays ground for happy hens

AT HOME ON THE RANGE: (L-R) Jake, Brenda and Sophie Lipsys with their new laying hens.

Free-range egg farm pushes local business and animal welfare.

Local Partners

MKR rocked by satay sauce cheating scandal

WE ALL know what satay sauce is, right? Alyse and Matt didn't when they served it up on their MKR restaurant. Slammed by everyone, their reaction was gold.

'Nasty' Married At First Sight groom ripped apart on TV

Anthony gets torn down during the Married At First Sight commitment ceremony.

MAFS groom Anthony faces the music after fiery dinner party.

MOVIE REVIEW: Matt Damon's The Great Wall gets lost

Matt Damon fails in a scene from the movie The Great Wall.

Did The Great Wall get lost in translation?

Paul Murray listens to regions

Paul Murray is taking his Sky News show on the road to shine a spotlight on regional Australia.

Radio broadcaster wants viewers to 'turn up and fire up'

Thangool singer named Bush Balladeer of the Year

Ashley Cook (right) with songwriter Terry Bennetts after their win at the Brumby Awards.

Ashley Cook took home a swag of awards at Tamworth last month.

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

Jolie may have the kids, but Pitt has custody of Hollywood

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

New suburb in the crosshairs of Coast vandals

UNDER WRAPS: Graffiti on art installations at the entrance to the newly opened Bells Creek Arterial Road has been covered up.

Vandal rechristens Stockland as something less than complimentary

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!