Volunteers search Haast area for second body
A team of 50 Haast residents and volunteers have rallied to search for a Canadian man presumed dead after his rental van was swept off a West Coast road by a slip.
Police remain optimistic about finding the body of Connor Hayes, 25, despite it being nearly a fortnight since he was last seen alive with his girlfriend Joanna Lam, 24, at Fox Glacier.
The pair were reported missing after Lam failed to turn up for her first day of work at Nelson Hospital on Monday. Her body was found on a beach north of Haast on Friday.
Senior Constable Robin Manera said 50 Haast residents and search and rescue volunteers had rallied this morning to scour the coastline and river for Hayes' body. The team, which included jetboats, dogs and people on horseback, was the largest to assemble in the search for the missing man.
Hayes' family remained in Canada, but planned to travel to New Zealand, Manera said.
''I did a ring around yesterday and they [residents and volunteers] dropped everything and came in. That's the way it works around here.
''We are basically representing them [Hayes' family].''
Police remained optimistic about finding Hayes' body to give his family closure, Manera said.
''We are hopeful, but we couldn't be confident.''
Hayes and Lam had only been in New Zealand eight days when police believe their vehicle was hit by a slip in stormy conditions and plunged off the road into the Haast River, on September 10.
While other vehicles turned back because of the weather, it appeared the couple had continued driving along the Haast Pass highway, which had remained closed until Friday because of a massive slip close to where the chassis and wheels of the couple's rented campervan were found this week.
Lam's body was taken to Greymouth after it had ''come in with the tide'' and washed up on the beach, police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said.
This week, Jeffrey Lam said the family was hoping for "some sort of closure" by bringing his sister and Hayes home.
- © Fairfax NZ News