Missing Whangarei woman found shoeless
A plan to get away from it all took a turn for the worse for a Whangarei woman after she became lost in the bush without shoes for a week.
Search and Rescue teams had been searching the Te Urewea area for Suzanne Fay Holmes after her car was discovered on July 11.
"That concerned us because she had left the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition," Bay of Plenty Operations Support Manager Kevin Taylor said.
"That is not a normal thing to do. The cold weather we received in the area added to our concerns."
A rescue effort was launched with police holding grave concerns for Holmes as they had no idea what equipment she had and what her level of experience in the bush was.
"After speaking to her family we became comfortable she was reasonably well equipped and we knew she was substantially experienced with tramping," Taylor said.
"She had gone into the bush to get away from it all and it survive that long shows her experience."
Volunteers from Whakatane Land SAR started to scour the area from Wednesday but had no luck locating Holmes until the July 18. She was found near the Lion Hut, 80km east of Rotorua in the northern part of the National Park. Her feet were swollen and had cuts on them from walking around without shoes.
"It is my understanding she discarded her shoes," Taylor said.
"She was in bare feet when they found her and she was not in a position to walk out of the area."
The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter assisted with the search and used their winch to lift Holmes to safety and transport her to Whakatane District Hospital for recovery.
It is the second time an aerial search had been conducted by the helicopter in the region.
Taylor said the efforts of rescue volunteers needs to be commended for ensuring the safe return of Holmes.
"There were teams from Whakatane, Rotorua and Tauranga involved," he said.
"It was a really good effort from all of these volunteers and their hard work is very much appreciated by us."