The following statement was provided to Police by Pavlina Pizova, the woman rescued this week from the Routeburn Track.
Attached is a photo of Pavlina and her partner Ondrej Petr, whose body Police recovered from near the track this morning.As you can imagine the last month was very harrowing for me and my and my partner’s families. There is not enough space and it is not appropriate at this time to go into details, but I’d like to take this opportunity to just briefly explain our actions. The conditions were extreme, we encountered heavy snow fall and low cloud which contributed to our enforced overnighting in the open which affected our plans to reach Lake McKenzie Hut. In our attempt to reach the hut the tragic accident happened when my partner fell and died. After his death it took me another two nights out in the open before I reached the safety of the hut. The recent heavy snows meant I was walking through waist-deep snow and because all track markers were covered, I had to find my own way. During this time I got extremely cold, exhausted, and my feet were frozen. At the hut, considering my physical health, the deep snow conditions, knowing there were avalanche paths ahead of me, I knew it was best to stay in the safe place. I made a few attempts to walk out from the hut, but my feet, the weather conditions and the deep snow discouraged me from doing so. At the hut I saw numerous avalanches coming down. I would like to use this opportunity to pass a strong message on to anyone intending to travel in the New Zealand mountains to seek very good information and mainly respect the winter conditions and quickly changing weather. I am aware we made a few mistakes – not leaving our intentions with somebody, not carrying a PLB and underestimating the winter conditions on the track. All these aspects contributed to our tragedy. I would like to thank the New Zealand Land SAR, the local Police and DOC for their effort to bring me to safety. Especially I’d like to thank Vladka and Richard Kennett for their help and assistance on the personal basis and helping our families to get through all this. Police would like to extend their sincere sympathies to Pavlina, and to Ondrej's family, for their loss. ENDS Issued by Rachel Purdom/Police Media Centre.