15 Feb 2011

British tramper found alive and well in national park

10:41 pm on 15 February 2011

A British tourist missing in Kahurangi National Park near Nelson has been found alive and well on Tuesday.

James Esbester, 30, had not been heard from since Thursday after leaving a note at hut on the Wangapeka Track telling of his intention to climb Mt Luna.

Police said a rescue helicopter searching the area spotted Mr Esbester about 8.10pm on the Crow Riverbed about 10km from Mt Luna and well off his intended route.

Search controller Inspector Hugh Flower said the helicopter had been sent to check remote huts well outside the search area in order to eliminate them from the search when the pilot spotted Mr Esbester waving.

The tramper has been taken to Nelson Hospital with suspected mild hypothermia, but at this stage there is no indication he has suffered any injury, police said.

Tracker dogs, abseiling specialists and an Air Force helicopter were involved in the search.

Mr Esbester has been in New Zealand since November for a cycling and walking trip. His father arrived in the country on Monday.