Concerns for missing diabetic tramper

23:41, May 07 2012
VAST LANDSCAPE: The Ahuriri Valley, where a tramper is missing.

Searching for a missing diabetic tramper in a North Otago "blackspot" is like looking for a "needle in a haystack".

Oamaru police community constable Bruce Dow said police were concerned for the wellbeing of Dunedin man David Charles Palmer, who was due to return from a day tramp on the Dingle Burn Track in the Ahuriri Valley Conservation Park on Saturday.

The 53-year-old was reported missing by friends on Sunday. His vehicle was discovered at the base of the Dingle Burn Track.

Dow said there were concerns for his safety as he was "lightly cladded", had type 1 diabetes and temperatures had been plunging.

Police and search and rescue volunteers from Twizel, Omarama and Oamaru scoured the area from Sunday until 4am Monday. Yesterday a team on the ground and a helicopter searched from 6am until 10pm.

A ground search resumed at 6am today with Dunedin staff joining in. Around 50 SAR volunteers and Police SAR staff from Dunedin, Queenstown and Twizel are carrying out a ground search of a large area of approximately 200 square kilometres in the vicinity of Birchwood.


Dow said: "It's vast and it's really like a needle in a haystack."

He described the 49,000-hectare high country park as dense bush lower in the valley turning to rocks and tussock higher up which reached up to 6500 feet.

The valley was in a "blackspot" for communication making it harder to co-ordinate the operation, he said.

Dow said there were no well-marked walking tracks in the park.

The Press