Family holds on to hope as search called off

MISSING: German tramper Christian Prehn.
MISSING: German tramper Christian Prehn.

The father of missing German tramper Christian Prehn hopes his son is still alive despite police calling off their search.

Search co-ordinator senior constable Dave Colville said on Friday that further ground searches would be carried out only when new information came to light.

Police began searching for Christian, 19, after a Department of Conservation worker discovered his pack lying beside the track in the Travers Saddle area of Nelson Lakes National Park at the end of last month. He was last seen on February 25.

Teams of experienced searchers and a helicopter crew spent last Wednesday and Thursday searching for Christian in unforgiving alpine territory. They were forced to retreat earlier in the week when snow and gales made the area too dangerous to enter.

Speaking from Krefeld, near Dusseldorf, Jens Prehn said the family was disappointed that the search would cease.

"We in fact are very sad about this decision, although we understand the proper objective constraints, and although we certainly pay great respect to the work of the search and rescue teams."

He said they had arranged a ceremony with family and friends in church where they sent prayers and positive energy to lead Christian back to them. Mr Prehn said he was looking for ways to arrange further searches from Germany, but the family was likely to travel to New Zealand soon so that they could better organise events.

The most prevailing theory he had heard was that Christian might have taken off his pack for a rest, and then taken his camera out to get a photograph. His camera was the only item missing from his pack, he said.

"To our opinion, and our great hope, he might then have decided . . . to climb down through some rough and impassable terrain, to somehow reach any of the tracks existing in this area."