Missing man may have died near end of trek

By Kim Fulton, Lee Scanlon of the Westport News -
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It appears missing Karamea man Andrew Ross White, 58, had almost reached the end of his Heaphy Track trek - an adventure on his bucket list - before he was swept away.

Searchers scouring the track found what they believe were Mr White's remains on the coastline close to the Heaphy Hut at about 11am yesterday.

Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Sean Judd believes Mr White might have fallen victim to a wave or the tide. He said incoming waves had almost caught out some of the searchers in the same area.

Mr White seemed to be a reclusive type who had lived in Karamea for some time, Mr Judd said. Police enquiries had revealed the Heaphy Track was on the list of things he wanted to do before he died.

He understood Mr White had a partner at Karamea. He also had two grown up sons from the North Island. They had taken part in the search yesterday, before the remains were found.

Mr White purchased two hut tickets for the Heaphy Track and was dropped off at the Takaka end on August 6.

Members of the public subsequently reported seeing him near the Karamea end about August 10.

Searchers began fearing the worst when they found his pack on Wednesday August 21, the day the search began, Mr Judd said.

The remains would undergo forensic analysis before the body could be formally identified. However, given the location, 6km north of where Mr White was last seen, police were confident it was the missing man.

They might never be able to establish when he had died.

Mr Judd thanked the large number of volunteers from Hokitika, Murchison, Reefton, Nelson, Westport and Karamea for their efforts over the last two days.

General public feedback had also helped with the search, he said.

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