19 Dec 2014

Intensive search for missing tourist

12:51 pm on 19 December 2014

A massive search operation, involving two helicopters, three ground teams and police tracking dogs is underway for a tramper lost in the Tararua Forest Park.

Austrian David Schopf was last seen about 1.30pm on Wednesday at the Waitewaewae Hut.

Sergeant Bill Nicholson is co-ordinating the search and said Mr Schopf, who was carrying a pack and small Spanish guitar, fell behind the rest of the party after leaving the hut.

"About half an hour later the group stopped, waited for him to catch up, and when he didn't arrive one of the party went back to the hut to try and find him, but there was no sign of him."

The 21-year-old was wearing a yellow and black beanie, and was carrying a black and grey tramping pack and a small Spanish guitar.

Mr Nicholson said the group was on the last day of a four-day tramp and it was not known whether Mr Schopf had any food left.

He said the track was reasonably well-marked but some trampers had gone off trail in an area called the plateau.

An Airforce Iroquois helicopter dropped search teams into the area this morning and a commercial helicopter is doing an intensive search of the river.