A 22-year-old deer hunter from Timaru was found safe and well yesterday afternoon, after the alarm was raised when he did not return from the Manapouri area as expected yesterday morning.

Te Anau police said the man, who had been part of a hunting trip, returned to Back Valley Hut at Manapouri about lunchtime.

Acting Sergeant Alan Johnston, of Te Anau, said yesterday the man left his companion at the hut to hunt deer on Sunday at 5pm.

"He was only carrying a rifle and lightly clad. He was inexperienced and had only been in the area once, three years ago."

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The hunter did not return at dark and his companion searched along the track for him. At midnight, the companion set off a locator beacon at the hut.

A Southern Lakes helicopter was dispatched to the area but the crew was unable to find the missing man.

Another aerial search after daybreak also proved fruitless.

"About a dozen police and LandSAR volunteers were being dispatched into the field around 1.30pm when the man turned back up at the Back Valley Hut uninjured and safe," he said.

"This is a timely reminder to hunters and trampers to be prepared for the unexpected and if a locator beacon is available, it should be carried," Sgt Johnston said.