CHARLOTTE, NC - A mother and daughter from Charlotte were rescued on Saturday after spending four nights and five days stranded in the wilderness in New Zealand.
Carolyn and Rachel Lloyd lost their way during a hike.
Sergeant Anthony Harmer of the Wellington Police Search and Rescue says the pair had planned a day's walk on Tuesday but they got stranded in rough terrain and couldn't find their way back.
Harmer says they survived by staying calm and huddling together for warmth.
"She couldn't even walk, she couldn't go anywhere. We were there at the mercy of everybody, hoping that somebody would rescue us," Carolyn Lloyd said.
"At this point we kind of knew I was failing health and I was on the verge of dying. We were even discussing going through my dying wishes which I'm sure it wasn't easy for her," Rachel Lloyd said.
Their ordeal came to an end when a rescue helicopter spotted their large sign made out of fern fronds that read "help."
The two were taken to a hospital where they're being treated for dehydration and exhaustion. Rachel will be in the hospital for a few more days.
The mother was visiting her 22-year-old daughter who is an NC State graduate studying in the country.
Rachel plans to finish her studies in New Zealand.
Carolyn and Rachel recounted their ordeal to the Associated Press:
Carolyn Lloyd, 47, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was visiting her daughter for about a week, and Rachel was eager to show her some highlights of New Zealand. They had planned to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a popular route that was the backdrop for some of the scenes in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. But the winds that day were too strong, so they changed their plans to do a day hike in the expansive Tararua Forest Park. It was close to where Rachel was completing a semester abroad at Massey University in Palmerston North, after finishing most of a double degree at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
They left April 26, with Rachel's college backpack filled with some water, trail mix and other snacks. They followed orange markers up a trail for about three hours to a summit, where they enjoyed sunny weather and spectacular views. But as they set off to complete the circular trail, they couldn't locate any more orange markers and started following some blue markers down a hill. They figured it was a continuation of the trail but later learned it was probably a track for pest monitoring.
"It got very steep, very jungly," said Rachel. "The markers completely stopped after about 20 minutes but it was so steep it was physically impossible to climb back up."
Rachel said they continued descending until they got stuck on a tiny ledge atop a 182-meter (600-foot) waterfall. As it got dark, they straddled a tree and lay atop one another to keep warm, keeping each other awake so they wouldn't fall over the edge. Carolyn opened a package of cheese, only to have it tumble over the waterfall.
Carolyn opened a package of cheese, only to have it tumble over the waterfall. The pair scaled down the cliff next to the waterfall.
"There would be one tiny little rock, or one tiny shrub, and we'd swing to the next thing," Rachel Lloyd said.
Once down, they followed a stream, figuring it would lead eventually to civilization. But they were forced to keep switching sides and Rachel fell head first into the icy water, hitting her head on a rock.
"That's when I started going downhill," she said. "I could never get dry and couldn't get warm the rest of the trip."
Carolyn piggybacked her daughter at times as they continued their journey. They made camp that night in a grassy clearing. They gathered ferns and lay atop each other as they tried to keep warm in temperatures which fell close to freezing.
"At this point it was very scary," said Rachel. "I was trying to stay positive, and constantly praying, asking God to be with us."
More on this story, here.