Ground search set for tramper

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 13:00 24/12/2013
LOST: Andy Wyatt has been missing for 11 days in an area that has swallowed at least two other trampers without trace.

LOST: Andy Wyatt has been missing for 11 days in an area that has swallowed at least two other trampers without trace.

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Search teams hope to enter the Nelson Lakes National Park tomorrow to look for missing English tramper Andrew Ian Wyatt.

Bad weather yesterday and early today had prevented searchers getting to the area but it is hoped ground search teams will be able to be flown into the Blue Lake area first thing tomorrow.

Inquiries into bank and telephone records are continuing, and police are still appealing for sightings of of the 41-year-old who has not been seen for 11 days.

Mr Wyatt arrived in New Zealand on November 21 with the intention of walking the Te Araroa Trail which links tramping routes from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

The last known sighting of him was on December 15 when he left Blue Lake Hut about 6am. He failed to pick up a food package at Boyle village settlement, in the Lewis Pass, the following day.

Mr Wyatt has not been in contact with his parents in Cornwall, England since December 12.

He is 6ft 1in tall, with ginger hair and was carrying light equipment.  Police are keen to speak to anyone who was tramping in the Blue Lake, Sabine Valley, D’Urville Valley area of Nelson Lakes National Park between December 13 and 19. Anyone with any information that may be relevant to this search should contact Nelson police.

Police search and rescue co-ordinator Senior Constable Gerry Tonkin said earlier that Mr Wyatt’s parents were not yet planning to travel to New Zealand.

A helicopter spent three hours on Monday visiting the huts in the area. Mr Tonkin said it was a case of ‘‘deja vu’’ for police, as Mr Wyatt failed to reach a planned meeting when walking the same trail last year.

Police did not search for him that time, because he was never reported as a missing person. 

Mr Wyatt was classed as a ‘‘lightweight tramper’’ and would have ‘‘no back up’’  if something went wrong, Mr Tonkin said.

The area he had planned to walk through was ‘‘probably the trickiest section of the whole trail’’ with major hazards such as bluffs and steep slopes.

Training officer for the Nelson search and rescue volunteer group, Sherp Tucker, confirmed Mr Wyatt's case was similar to that of several other trampers who have gone missing in the Nelson Lakes National Park. However, he said this was no reason to assume Mr Wyatt met the same fate.

"Every search is slightly different, mainly because the person's behaviour patterns and the weather patterns will make it different. The main thing is to be very proactive."

He said 11 days was "not that long" in survival terms, citing a man who once survived for 11 days in a hut on the St James Walkway with a broken pelvis. He recalled another tramper who had survived for 28 days in the Aorere River region.

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- The Nelson Mail

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