Bad weather hampers search

ANNA WILLIAMS AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 06:26 04/03/2014

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Police are keeping an eye on weather conditions in the Nelson Lakes National Park this morning after the search for a missing German tourist was postponed yesterday due to bad weather.

Three search teams spent Sunday scouring the Travers Saddle area for signs of Christian Ulf Erik Prehn, 19, who may have been missing for up to a week.

A police spokeswoman said yesterday all three search teams had pulled out. The wind chill temperature had dropped to -10 degrees Celsius and 8 centimetres of snow had been forecast for later in the day.

The search would continue tomorrow or Thursday when the weather was expected to improve, she said.

A MetService spokesman said yesterday the wind chill temperature at Travers Saddle was expected to reach -12C today but the freezing level would rise, making snow unlikely.

The spokeswoman said police had "grave concerns" for the man's welfare.

On Friday, Department of Conservation staff reported to police that a tramper's pack had been left beside the track on the Travers Saddle.

The pack, which contained food for up to five days, a medical kit, and wet weather gear, was found on Saturday. Inquires with other trampers in the area suggest it might have been there for up to a week.

Police confirmed yesterday the pack belonged to Mr Prehn.

No-one had information on where the missing man had been staying or what his plans were, the spokeswoman said.

Police had been in contact with his parents in Germany, who said their son might have been ‘Wwoofing', working on organic farms in return for lodging and food.

The police spokeswoman said police had talked to a tramper who shared a hut with Mr Prehn but the man did not know what the missing man's plans were.

They would still like to speak with a German woman called Angela Bahr who is believed to have spoken with Mr Prehn at a hut.

Police would like to hear from anyone who has been in contact with Mr Prehn or anyone tramping in the Travers Saddle area in the past week.

Mr Prehn arrived in New Zealand in October last year on a one year tourist visa.

Anyone with information that may assist this search should call Nelson police on 03 546 3840.

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- The Marlborough Express

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