20 May 2020

Search for missing trampers finds footprints, brings in drones

6:07 pm on 20 May 2020

Search and rescue teams are utilising infrared drones as they continue to look for two missing trampers in the Kahurangi National Park.

Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds failed to return from their tramp when expected.

Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds failed to return from their tramp when expected. Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23 and from the Tasman area, started out on 9 May but have not yet returned.

They are understood to have entered the Anatori River carpark.

Tasman Police Senior Constable David Cogger, said they had found very few clues but believed the trampers were well prepared.

"We have [been] continuing on with the inquiry phase trying to track down and interview and re-interview persons that were at the Nikau point or Anatori Road end carpark, and those inquiries are ongoing," he said.

"The search teams have located numerous footprints in the environment, but it's hard to confirm whether these are or not Jess and Dion's footprints."

Cogger believed the trampers were well prepared based on information gathered so far.

"From our background inquiries Jess is a very competent outdoor practitioner, she's got academic qualifications and works in the outdoor industry," he said.

"The witness sighting said they were well prepared had good gear and they seemed to be carrying packs with enough food to sustain themselves for quite a while.

"The trouble [is], we have no firm intentions of where they were heading and when they were going to be heading out of the hills."

Cogger said the drone would be supported by Fire and Emergency New Zealand district command truck.

He said the drone would try to perform a heat map of the Anatori River valley system overnight to see if anything could be investigated in the morning - either on foot or by helicopter.

Cogger said search teams had carried out a coastal search to the Kahurangi Point lighthouse this evening as it was low tide.

They would set up camp in the hills for the night, he said.

"We would just like to thank our volunteers from LandSAR New Zealand who have given up their holidays and their work - and they are working very hard to bring Jessica and Dion back to safety."