Search and rescue crews scour South Westland bush for missing tourist

2019-06-11 05:17:26

A body has been found in the search for Danish man missing after going hunting in South Westland.

While the body has not yet been formally identified, police believed it was the man searchers have been looking for since he was reported overdue on Monday.

Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said the 21-year-old went into the area by himself on June 3 to hunt for tahr.

He was last seen in the Cassel Flat hut on June 6 by other hunters.

West Coast Police search and rescue, along with Land Search and Rescue, searched the Cassel Flat area, Karangarua Valley.

Police said he was found by helicopter within hours of beginning the search. The helicopter then deployed Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) volunteers to retrieve the body. The search involved 12 LandSAR volunteers, two police SAR staff and a helicopter.

The missing man's family has been advised and his death has been referred to the coroner.

According to the Department of Conservation the Karangarua Valley is only suitable for well-equipped and experienced trampers and hunters because of steep climbs on ridges and bluffs and river crossings.

A Swedish hunter went missing in the same area in May 2017 and his body was never found

Hans Christian Tornmarck, 27, also went hunting alone in the Karangarua Valley. His sleeping bag and tent were found but after an extensive search no body was ever found. Police said at the time it was an "extreme, raw and unforgiving environment".

DOC senior ranger Ian Singleton said it was a popular area for hunters of tahr, chamois and deer.

"The Karangarua is pretty rugged West Coast terrain. There are three huts and a track but off track its challenging country," he said.

DOC advises the best time to visit was summer or autumn because rivers can flood at any time of the year.

"Do not attempt this trip in bad weather or when rain is forecast. Care should be taken on exposed, slippery stream crossings and especially when crossing a washout with 70m exposure about two-thirds of the way along the sidle section," the DOC website says.

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