Sherry Crooks’ bush skills helped her survive her ordeal in the bush.
Outdoor survival experts say water and shelter were key to surviving in the forest for unexpectedly long periods of time.
Cutting Edge Bushcraft’s Ian Barnes said the weather Sherry Crooks endured during the ordeal would have made the experience even more difficult.
The scammer was spotted by an illegal tourist near the West Coast boardwalk on Sunday and hadn’t been seen since late December.
Police say her story is an amazing survival story and she was aided by her bush skills.
She left for only four days, disorienting and hurting her leg.
Burns says her experience must have been very tough as she tried to keep it dry and set it on fire.
“We can live without food for a long time, so having water and shelter is the number one priority,” he says. “The food problem is quite difficult in New Zealand’s forests. Summers are mild, but not dangerously hot.”
But the West Coast endured “terrible” weather during the six weeks that Crooks went missing.
“It would have been very difficult to start a fire unless you were familiar with the environment, so it would have been very difficult.”
The main food sources on the West Coast were possums and eels. Vegetable supplies were very limited.
“Outback in New Zealand, vegetable supplies are minimal except in specialized areas, so basically it’s protein – possums and eels.”
He said people can survive that much longer in bushes if they conserve and use energy wisely.
“Yes, they will.” [survive] But surviving means not dying, so basically if you’re not burning more calories than you’re taking in, you can keep moving. So if someone sat quietly and meditated and saved what they had in terms of energy and warmth, they would be fine.
“When they run around and expend more energy, they can quickly collapse. So how you respond to the situation is important.”
The scammer was found on a railroad track near Punakaiki, 45 kilometers north of Greymouth.
Rescuers gave the mother of four food and water before calling for help, and Crooks was taken by West Coast Rescue Helicopter to Greymouth Hospital.
Greymouth Sergeant Michelle Bloom said the 36-year-old man is recovering well and called police yesterday.
“This is an amazing survival story. Crooks became disoriented and injured his leg when he began a four-day walk in the Mount Bovis area.
“She was well equipped and had extensive knowledge of bushcraft, which allowed her to survive six weeks trying to slowly escape from the bush.”
Crooks said he was grateful to those who helped him rescue him.
“She would like to thank the illegal traveler who found her and everyone involved in the search and rescue effort.
“Police would also like to thank everyone who has cooperated with her search efforts over the past six weeks.