Search for missing tramper to continue

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 09:15 29/12/2012
Alistair Levy
MISSING: Alistair Levy

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Searchers were this morning waiting for the weather to clear around Mt Owen before conducting an aerial search of an area they want to cover in the hope of finding missing tramper Alistair Levy.

Search co-ordinator Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons said that the result of that search would determine what happens next.

The ground search had now been completed.

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was on standby this morning.

Pilot Jarrod Colbourne was expecting a briefing once weather conditions cleared.

There were local people in the Mt Owen area providing regular weather updates to the search and rescue team.

''There's a certain area they want to look at and we will be concentrating on that.''

Mr Colbourne described the area, which he is familiar with, as steep and rugged.

Mr Fitzsimons said the situation after today was that no further searching was planned until there was more information highlighting a particular area.

''The family came up yesterday from Christchurch and we took them through the search procedure, and they understand how it developed and what was involved,'' Mr Fitzsimons said.

The family expressed their thanks to the police and search volunteers for their efforts.

Police have held grave concerns in recent days for Mr Levy's welfare given how long he had been missing and the rough terrain in the park.

The experienced tramper was last heard from when he sent a text from the summit of Mt Owen in the Kahurangi national park on Sunday.

The 54-year-old Palmerston North high school science and chemistry teacher had planned to join wife Tracy and other family members in Christchurch on Monday for Christmas.

Police believe Mr Levy walked over the top of the mountain and had planned to come back via the cafe at Kohatu, where his bike was located this week. He had arranged to leave it there with the cafe owners.

Brother Graham Levy said this week that his brother had been tramping for 30 years, but it was not unusual for him not to take an emergency beacon.

He had been progressively tramping through the entire South Island, from north to south, and the Mt Owen trip was to fill in a gap in that process.

Nelson Speleological Group president Andrew Smith said people travelling on the south side of Mt

Owen ''absolutely'' needed their wits about them. 

''It's not too bad a country to find your way through if you know where you're going, but if you don't, it's tough.''

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Anyone with information about Mr Levy is asked to phone the Nelson police, 03 546 3840.

- The Nelson Mail

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