Body of missing Australian tourist found

The man whose body was found in the Waikato River was planning to compete in an equestrian pairs event this weekend.

The body of 21-year-old Australian Matthew Slade was found in the Waikato River yesterday afternoon - the day after he went missing while swimming near rapids.

Mr Slade was in the area with a group of friends. He went missing about 6.15pm on Wednesday.

He had gone for a swim near the Full James Rapids downstream of the Aratiatia Dam when he started calling for help.

A female companion ran to the riverbank but Mr Slade had disappeared from view.

The water at the time Mr Slade went missing was high and fairly fast-flowing.

About 2pm yesterday afternoon the Police National Dive Team found Mr Slade's body close to where he was last seen.

A Rapids Jet boat had helped the search by combing the waterway with police and Coastguard personnel on board.

The Taupo Harbourmaster was using a jet ski and the Taupo Coastguard was also using a Mighty River Power rigid inflatable.

The search was called off at nightfall on Wednesday but continued yesterday morning.

Mr Slade's parents travelled from Australia to Taupo yesterday.

Mr Slade travelled to New Zealand on December 22 and was planning to stay in the country until March riding and training ponies for the World Championships of the Equestrian Mounted Games.

He had previously represented Australia in this sport and was intending to compete this weekend in a pairs event and next month in a team event.

Although not competing in the World Championships in March he was key to the event preparing New Zealand-provided ponies for foreign competitors.

Police are providing support for the family with the Australian High Commission.

The family did not want to make any other comments about the incident.

- Hamilton News

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