27 May 2020

Takaka buzzing as trampers found alive and well

From Checkpoint, 5:17 pm on 27 May 2020

Friends of young trampers Jess O'Connor and Dion Reynolds say they're over the moon the pair has been found alive and well after spending 18 days in Kahurangi National Park.

Search and rescue teams have been scouring the area for the pair, who are both 23, for the past week after they failed to return from a tramp which started on May 9.

Takaka, the town where Dion lives, is abuzz - residents RNZ spoke to say they felt pure joy beyond words after hearing about the rescue.

Holly Osmond owns Roots Bar in Takaka where Dion worked in the kitchen over the past summer. She told Checkpoint reporter Nita Blake-Persen they never gave up hope Jess and Dion would be found.

"At first we were just, 'you know, they'll be right', that kind of thing. And then as time went on and time went on, it was getting pretty hairy, definitely been the subject of conversation here a lot, but we're just rapt to have the news."

She said she has had goosebumps since the news and the phone has not stopped ringing.

"We're just stoked…  I just always thought that as long as there's people out there searching… You've just got to hold the hope, keep the faith, and while people are out there doing the job, don't give up, because you're essentially giving up on them too."

She said she'll shout Dion a beer when she sees him again.

"Well done staying alive guys, well done. A long time, and we're looking forward to seeing them again."