Tuesday, 18 February, 2020

Body of missing hiker Stephanie Simpson found

The Makarora River in Mount Aspiring National Park Makarora River in Mount Aspiring National Park
Deanna Wagner | 14 February, 2020, 16:41

Police looking for a British woman missing in New Zealand have said they have found her body.

The family of missing British tramper Stephanie Simpson arrived at the search area the same time her body was found, police say.

Police are due to increase the search for Ms Simpson who was reported missing on Monday.

Earlier, searchers had found items in the area thought to belong to Simpson, including a pack and a pair of boots.

Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said search and rescue teams found Simpson's body on Friday about 1.40pm in the Pyke Creek area, described as "extremely challenging" terrain in the Southern Alps.

It is believed Ms Simpson headed out to Mt Aspiring National Park after work on the Friday and was expected to return on Sunday.

Police extended their condolences to her family at this tragic time, he said.

Sgt Mark Kirkwood, from West Coast search and rescue, said: "The family are understandably grieving and they have asked media to respect their request for privacy during this hard time".

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Simpson's brother-in-law, Sam Hazelton, told the New Zealand Herald the worst thing was not knowing what had happened.

However, the discovery had led to search and rescue efforts being narrowed down to the Pyke Creek area.

The death will be referred to the Coroner.

He described Ms Simpson as an "extremely determined and strong-willed person".

Ms Simpson's family last heard from her on Thursday morning when she said she planned to go hiking at the weekend on a WhatsApp group.

According to her Facebook account, she had been living in the Wanaka area since November and was working as a landscaper.

Mount Aspiring National Park is known for its rugged remoteness, its mountains and its striking river valleys.

Thousands of hikers visit New Zealand each year to explore its mountains and wildlife. Two dog teams and 16 searchers scoured part of Mt Aspiring National park.