A Czech woman rescued from a remote cabin in New Zealand on Wednesday told police she had spent a month there alone after her partner fell to his death along the hiking trail. The hiking pair, Pavlina Pizova and Ondrej Petr, both in their mid twenties, began an expedition on July 26 along the famous Routeburn track, which winds through a gorge in the mountains of New Zealand’s Fiordland national park. The pair soon veered off course, and Petr fell down a steep slope on July 28. Pizova climbed down to reach him, but said that he died shortly afterwards.
After her partner’s death, police said, Pizova spent three nights in the bush before breaking into a warden’s hut that had been left locked and unattended for the winter at Lake Mackenzie, about halfway down the 20 mile trail. Pizova said she felt unable to walk due to her own injuries, heavy snow, and the risk of avalanches. Unable to operate the cabin’s radio, the woman drew in “H” in the snow outside in the hope that it could be seen from the air. No other hikers came by during her month long stay, she said.
While the Routeburn track normally takes only two to four days to complete, the New Zealand department of conservation’s website warns that tracks “are greatly reduced” in winter months and that heavy snow can create “additional safety hazards to consider.” Experts said Pizova was unlucky no-one else walked by the hut, but that her survival, given the circumstances, was incredible. “I have been very surprised by this story,” said Noel Saxon, general manager of Ultimate Hikes Queenstown. “She must be a hardy character to have stayed out there so long in these conditions.”