Rebecca Quilliam

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

Poor weather hampers search for missing tramper

Alistair Levy was due out of the park on Monday. Photo / Nelson Marlborough Rescue
Alistair Levy was due out of the park on Monday. Photo / Nelson Marlborough Rescue

Poor weather today halted an aerial search over one of the last places a tramper who is missing in Kahurangi National Park, near Nelson, could be.

A rescue helicopter was supposed to fly over Castle Basin at the top of Mt Owen in the search for 54-year-old Alistair Levy, who has not been heard from since Sunday.

But search co-ordinator Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons said the chopper was grounded because of the weather.

"We still intend to have an aerial check of that [area] when the weather clears. It's an area of interest that needs that and we need to do that.''

Tomorrow's weather was not looking positive however, he said.

Mr Fitzsimons met with Mr Levy's family today and had kept them informed on the search.

He said they understood the situation was grim.

Police held grave fears for Mr Levy.

Without any fresh information on where Mr Levy was, aside from the aerial search, there was not much more searchers could do, Mr Fitzsimons said.

A ground search had finished up yesterday and cavers, who were going on an organised trip into the vast cave system through the mountain today had their trip postponed because of the poor weather.

"There's been quite a widespread effort from our various volunteers around the district for Alistair and I guess it's a reflection of just how rugged that country is.

"Our search teams were sometimes putting themselves into places of danger and concern.''

Police said Mr Levy left Nelson last Saturday morning. He sent a text message on Sunday morning to say he had tramped to 1875m up Mt Owen and had not been head from since.

The Palmerston North man was due to pick up his bike from a cafe in Kohatu and cycle back to his car at the start of the track at Courthouse Flat, but never made it.

He has been described as an experienced tramper but had no emergency locator beacon on him.

- APNZ

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