Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Dead skier not reported missing for two days

Mt Ruapehu. Photo / David Nottage
Mt Ruapehu. Photo / David Nottage

An Italian ski instructor who fell to his death on Mt Ruapehu was not reported missing for two days.

Elias Hofer, 25, is thought to have strayed into an area of steep slopes and rocky terrain after finishing his shift at the Whakapapa skifield on Thursday afternoon.

His body was found yesterday afternoon at the bottom of a rocky area known as the Pinnacles, after a search made difficult by treacherous terrain and unsettled weather.

Whakapapa skifield area manager Steve McGill said Mr Hofer started working as a ski instructor about four months ago.

He had just finished his shift on Thursday afternoon when he decided to go for a walk up one of the slopes.

"A lot of the guys, they will either walk up to the crater or go up just for a ski at the end of the day.''

Mr McGill said he did not know exactly what happened after that.

"He's obviously slipped while he was skiing or while he was walking up the slopes there.''

Mr Hofer was rostered off on Friday and the skifield was closed the following day. He was reported missing on Saturday.

Mr McGill did not know Mr Hofer personally but colleagues said he was "a nice guy, a pretty quiet sort of a guy'' who enjoyed his work on the mountain.

"Everyone's obviously very upset and it's a real tragedy, losing a colleague like that.''

Mr Hofer lived by himself in a room at a backpackers in National Park.

It was his first season working at the skifield.

Constable Conrad Smith of National Park police said the Italian consulate had advised Mr Hofer's next of kin.

Police were investigating the death on behalf of the coroner.

A post mortem examination would be carried out at Taumaranui Hospital.


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