Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Inquest: Hunter died after fall

A young, fit, healthy soldier died after making a tragic miscalculation on steep terrain and plunging more than 100m, a coroner has found.

Matthew John Laing was found dead in the Rob Roy Valley, Mount Aspiring Park, in January.

The 24-year-old soldier from Alexandra had been on a solo hunting trip.

His father called emergency services when he did not return from the two-night trip on January 8.

At a coroner's inquest in Alexandra, his father, Russell Laing and cousin Bradley Thomas, described Mr Laing as a fit and experienced hunter who was always well equipped.

Senior Constable Michael Ian Johnston of Wanaka police was part of the team that recovered Mr Laing's body.

He believed Mr Laing slipped and fell more than 100m over a series of bluffs.

Mr Johnston and Paul Honelink, another experienced hunter, told the inquest it was possible Mr Laing had spotted a trophy chamois buck and in stalking it had climbed too high into a treacherous part of the valley wall.

In his finding, Otago Southland Coroner David Crerar said evidence at the inquest had shown Mr laing had previously turned away from dangerous slopes.

"I think that, in this case, he's just gone one step too far; made that fatal judgement and paid the ultimate price."

He said Mr Laing was fit, experienced and well equipped.

"Unfortunately the terrain he was traversing was unforgiving. His slight miscalculation has had the tragic consequences now disclosed by the evidence."

Coroner Crerar ruled Mr Laing had died from multiple head injuries and other traumatic injuries consistent with a fall.

- APNZ

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