University students and staff rescued in Southern Alps

An alert from a personal locator beacon was sent from near the Huxley Forks Hut in the Southern Alps. - Photo: Supplied / Flickr

Eight Otago University staff and students have been rescued after being caught in a blizzard in the Southern Alps.

The Rescue Coordination Centre says it received an alert from a personal locator beacon near the Huxley Forks Hut in North Otago at 9.45pm yesterday.

Weather conditions were not safe for a helicopter to fly into the area last night, due to heavy snow, so a search and rescue team went in by foot.

The group was found at the Huxley River, around 1.5km from the hut early this morning.

Two women were slightly hypothermic and were treated by the search and rescue team.

The trampers and rescuers were flown out of the area by a helicopter from Mt Cook at around 8am.

John Ashby from the Rescue Coordination Centre said despite having a locator beacon, the trampers put themselves at risk.

"Last night a very brutal front came through and created a lot of snow and they would have been in blizzard conditions before they reached the hut."

Search and Rescue Officer Chris Henshaw said the group did the right thing by taking two locator beacons into the area.

But he said the rescue is also a reminder to consider weather reports thoroughly before heading out, as the group was caught out by the blizzard conditions.

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