5 Jun 2019

Missing boatie possibly lost days earlier than thought

12:15 pm on 5 June 2019

Invercargill police searching for a man missing on a Southland lake believe he and the woman he was with got into difficulty nearly a week before they were reported missing.

Reflection of snowy mountains in Lake Hauroko in the Southern Scenic Route, New Zealand

Police believe the couple went on Lake Hauroko on 26 May (stock picture). Photo: 123RF

Their four-metre boat was reported missing on Lake Hauroko on Friday.

A woman's body with a life jacket nearby were found at the lake on Saturday along with items from the boat including camping items and food.

Sergeant Ian Martin said the Christchurch couple, in their 60s, had headed out for a camping trip to Caroline Hut - halfway around the lake - a week earlier, on 26 May.

"We're reasonably certain that they went onto the lake on Sunday and we have spoken to some people who happened to be there when they launched the boat.

"They said that the conditions on the lake were actually quite good at the time."

Sergeant Martin said their names are not in the Caroline Hut visitors' book.

"We've checked all the huts on Lake Hauroko and nothing's been left there."

It appeared they were missing for some time before the alarm was raised, he said.

It was extremely cold on Saturday when searchers recovered the woman's body and conditions had not been particularly good since then. The lake had risen 400mm since Sunday but was still clear.

The search for a missing boatie resumed this morning, but were suspended at midday due to poor conditions - water level remains high and bad weather is forecast.

He said Maritime New Zealand would join the investigation tomorrow, and the police national dive squad may be used when the water level had dropped.

They were still hopeful of finding the man, though the lake was the deepest in New Zealand. "There is a reasonable area to search before it drops off into the deep part."

Police said conditions would be continually reassessed to determine when the search could resume.

Anyone in the area who finds any debris is urged to record its location, photograph it, and contact police.