Lost: how tramp turned to tragedy

They'd been planning the trip for three to four weeks and it was Bennington's only available weekend, squeezed in between planning for Te Papa's Formula One exhibition and leaving for Finland for a holiday a week later.

Back into the pack went a sleeping bag, cooking gear, 1997 Tararua Park map, warm clothes and waterproofs, chocolate afghans, four apples, half a pineapple, streaky bacon, four eggs coddled in newspaper, rice, the remains of that night's freshly baked bread and the new camping coffee plunger he was keen to try out. The tent stayed out.

It was the logical decision- why take four extra kilograms when you're heading to a hut in a range only 90 minutes' drive from central Wellington, where the highest peaks are a piffling 1500 metres?

But it was a decision that might have cost two lives.