11 Feb 2020

Search for missing tramper Stephanie Simpson continues

1:37 pm on 11 February 2020

The search for UK tramper Stephanie Simpson, missing in Mt Aspiring National Park, is continuing today.

Stephanie Simpson

Stephanie Simpson Photo: Facebook

The 32-year-old from Essex was reported missing yesterday morning when she failed to turn up for work after leaving for a tramp on Friday.

Simpson, from Essex in the UK, works as a landscape gardener for Wanaka company Doug the Gardener.

Her employer, Douglas Peddle, said she had been in Wanaka for the past three months on a working holiday and was a keen tramper and had lots of hiking equipment.

"She's very fit and healthy, she came over from the UK and was keen to explore everything this region has to offer.

"She's been doing a few tramps in the area and went away last weekend," he said.

Her family were very concerned but were keeping their fingers crossed for good news today as the search progressed.

"It's hard not to think the worst but they are trying to stay positive."

Peddle said the weather in the area had been settled over the weekend.

"Hopefully, she just needs a helping hand to get out."

Police said a helicopter searched the area yesterday into the night, and an alpine rescue team, Wanaka LandSAR volunteers, and search dog and handler, were resuming the search this morning.

The search area covers Fantail Falls to Mt Brewster, the Brewster Hut and Mt Armstrong track, and Makarora Valley.

Police are appealing for information from anyone who stayed in the Cameron Flat area on Friday and spoke with Ms Simpson, or those who might have seen her in the area.

They said anyone who may have seen her on the track from Fantail Falls to Mt Armstrong, or in Makarora Valley, should ring police on 105.

Ten people had already contacted police with sightings and information about Simpson.

The Makarora River in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Makarora River in Mount Aspiring National Park. Photo: 123RF

Last week, two people were found dead in the Makarora River on Friday and Saturday.

Police said the missing woman did not appear to be connected to the to deaths.

Police were yet to release the names of the pair found in the river, and are still investigating what happened.

They believe they may have been tramping together.

Seventy-five tracks from Fiordland to the southern end of Mount Aspiring Park were closed after last week's heavy rain and flooding.

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