29 Feb 2024

'Majestic' goat and intuition lead son to dad missing in the bush

1:16 pm on 29 February 2024
Tramper Brent Harrison

Brent Harrison who was missing in the bush for almost three days. Photo: Supplied

A son says a majestic goat and gut intuition helped him find his dad who had been missing in the bush north of Wellington for nearly three days.

Brent Harrison, 72, got lost in the Tararua Ranges on Monday. His son, Luke, found him at dusk on Wednesday.

Inspector Ashley Gurney said Brent had been airlifted to Palmerston North hospital and had been through quite an ordeal.

Luke said he dropped his dad off for the tramp on his way to work on Monday. Later that day he received a call from him saying he was lost and confused.

"He didn't know where he'd been and this isn't like my dad, he's got Parkinsons and stuff. He was very confused, lost, off the track, asking for help", he told RNZ's Midday Report.

Luke dropped everything to start searching. He spent more than three hours Monday looking for his dad, and called the police.

Search for missing tramper Brent Harrison

Searchers looking for Brent Harrison. Photo: Supplied

Over the next few days more than 50 search and rescuers, helicopters with thermal equipment, and tracking dogs, scoured the bush for signs of Brent.

Luke said he was calling for his dad as he tramped through rough terrain.

"I instantly got a funny noise come back, straight away, like an answer but from an animal.

"I come round the corner and I was just like face-to face with a really big majestic looking goat, with really large horns. It was really beautiful actually."

Luke continued on but later realised it was a sign.

"He kept stopping and looking back at me... It wasn't til later that I thought about it and I was like, that goat, there was something really significant about that."

A helicopter helps in the search for Brent Harrison. Photo:

He had to wait for the helicopters and dogs, but once he was allowed back into the bush he was determined to search where he though his dad was. "I just had a really strong feeling I was going to find him."

Luke said Brent was a local legend in the outdoor community, having owned the outdoor store Mainly Tramping for 23 years, organised the Tararua Mountain Race, run 27 marathons, sea kayaked in Alaska, hiked in South America, and completed the Southern Traverse.

"I know my dad and he's a trooper, he's a bloody machine, even in the state he's in now - 72 and he's had Parkinsons for around 10 years."

Brent was shocked that it was his son, and nephew Ben, who found him.

Luke said he was unable to stand, dehydrated, and confused after days without his medications.

But he is convinced his dad will make a full recovery, and return to tramping. "But I'll be going with him this time."

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