US Students Survive 9 Days in NZ Bush
Alec Brown, Erica Klintworth stranded by snowstorm that blocked river
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 11, 2012 1:07 PM CDT
Updated Jun 11, 2012 1:40 PM CDT
Alec Brown, right, and his girlfriend Erica Klintworth. The two 21-year-old American students walked out of the New Zealand wilderness yesterday, after a snowstorm trapped them for nine days.    (Alec Brown)

(Newser) – Two American students trapped in the New Zealand wilderness by a snowstorm trekked out to safety after surviving their nine-day ordeal by rationing trail mix and warming themselves in hot springs. Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, both 21, returned to Christchurch today after meeting up with a search team—famished but otherwise in good shape. The two students, on a foreign study program, had planned to hike and camp at some hot springs, but "it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed," Alec Brown wrote in an email.

When they realized they were stuck they started rationing: "a biscuit and jelly one day," Brown wrote, "and even less another." The couple didn't take much food—some carrots, rice, peanut butter, and trail mix. Brown said that soaking in the hot pools "helped keep us warm and slow energy loss." It wasn't until yesterday, Brown said, that the river finally seemed safe enough to cross again, and they ventured out, spotting a rescue helicopter that never saw them. "We met up with the search and rescue by the road," Brown said, adding that he was confident in their ability to survive. "When you go into the bush you take your life into your own hands and need to be prepared to handle whatever conditions occur," he said. "We could have been more prepared, but in the end we were prepared enough to walk ourselves out."