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A warning has been issued after a group of cyclists narrowly escaped hypothermia.

The cyclists women, all of Invercargill were not prepared when they recently set off from Clyde, along the Otago Central Rail Trail, with the intention of getting to Oturehua that day.

Their 67km journey took longer than they had planned. Night fell and freezing temperatures followed ideal when at least one of the cyclists was wearing shorts.

As time went on, Bill May, who was providing them with accommodation for the night, had growing concerns for the trio.

“I was worried about them. To be fair, the young chap called me. He said to be late’.”

At 8.30pm, he phoned Mr May again to say he was at the Oturehua pub, but he was concerned for the women who had been lagging behind and their cellphones were going flat.

The male cyclist had advised them to stop at the old Ida Valley pub site.

Concerned by the freezing temperatures, Mr May started to look for the women and had received permission to take quad bikes on the Otago Central Rail Trail if he could not locate them.

“I was relieved to find them at the old Ida Valley station about 7km away from Oturehua, so they still had a long way to go ahead of them.”

He said at that point the temperature was -9degC.

Their hair had icicles and one was wearing shorts, Mr May said.

Mr May took them to the Oturehua pub where they were cared for and fed.

He said their actions were a “lesson learnt”.

His warning comes as more New Zealanders are venturing into their “own backyard” in the wake of Covid-19, and there could be more people than usual on the trail at this time of year.

Mr May said people should plan their day accordingly and if they took longer than planned, they should stop in the town they were nearest to before nightfall.