The Royal NZ Air Force helped with the search. Picture: Twitter/@NZAirForce
The Royal NZ Air Force helped with the search. Picture: Twitter/@NZAirForce

Young adventurers found after 18 days

Two trampers missing in wilderness in the northwest of New Zealand's South Island have been found alive.

Dion Reynolds and Jessica O'Connor, 23, went tramping in the Kahurangi National Park 18 days ago but failed to return when expected.

Tramping in New Zealand is a recreational activity involving walking long distances, often over rough terrain.

A St John spokeswoman said both only had minor injuries but an ambulance had met a helicopter to take them to Nelson hospital.

Sightings of the pair before they set off on May 9 near the Anatori River suggested they were well-prepared for their trip, which was due to end on May 14.

Their parents and O'Connor's colleagues at Abel Tasman Kayaks were hopeful, saying O'Connor knew the area well and both were experienced in the outdoors.

A large scale search effort for the pair included search teams aided by a dog and use of drones to create a heat map of the entire valley system.

Dion Reynolds, 23. Picture: Facebook
Dion Reynolds, 23. Picture: Facebook

SEARCH TEAM NEVER GAVE UP HOPE

Searching for the pair started last Tuesday, with good weather on the first few days. But over the weekend heavy rain had hampered the search, reducing the odds of the pair being found alive and well.

A Royal NZ Air Force NH90 helicopter has been helping search efforts over the past few days.

It was back there this morning, with the RNZAF sharing a photo of a crew of three on board - as well as a search dog all geared up and ready in a bright red vest.

The search for the pair resumed at first light this morning, police said.

Sergeant Malcolm York said the defence force was flying six teams into the area.

Today's search was to be centred around the Anatori River and the coastline, he said.

LandSAR NZ chief executive Carl McOnie said this morning that its team of volunteers were very skilled and was holding out hope of finding the pair.

"You never lose hope and you always have hope."

This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald and is republished here with permission.

Originally published as Young adventurers found after 18 days

Jess O'Connor, 23. Picture: Facebook
Jess O'Connor, 23. Picture: Facebook

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