Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Briton missing in NZ found safe

A British climber who went missing in New Zealand has been found safe

A British tourist who sparked a large-scale search and rescue operation while trekking in New Zealand has been found safe.

James Esbester, from Waterlooville, Hampshire, began his walk on the Wangapeka track in Kahurangi National Park near Nelson on the country's south island last Wednesday.

He wrote his intention to climb to the summit of Mount Luna on Thursday in the log book of an accommodation hut but had not been seen since.

A search operation including rescue aircraft, dog teams and 50 people was launched to find him.

Inspector Hugh Flower said Mr Esbester was spotted by a rescue helicopter which was travelling to accommodation huts to check for him.

He was found about six miles off his intended route in the Crow riverbed.

Mr Flower said: "The helicopter had been sent to check remote huts well outside the search area in order to eliminate them from the search when the pilot spotted Mr Esbester waving.

"He has been taken to Nelson Hospital with suspected mild hypothermia, but at this stage there is no indication he has suffered any injury."

Mr Esbester's father, who is from Portsmouth, had flown out to join the search.

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