Searchers recover woman's body on beach

Police believe Connor Hayes and Joanna Lam's campervan was hit by a slip and swept into the river.
Police believe Connor Hayes and Joanna Lam's campervan was hit by a slip and swept into the river.

A body, believed to be that of Canadian tourist Joanna Lam, has been found on a beach near Haast.

Police searchers recovered the woman's body at 2.30pm and believed it was the missing 24-year-old, but would not be able to confirm the identity until formal identification was completed. Ms Lam's next of kin had been advised, police said.

The body was found on an unnamed stretch of coastal beach between Haast and Knights Point, very close to where the fuel tank from their vehicle was recovered earlier in the week about 50km from where Ms Lam's rental vehicle left the road.

Police had searched that same area this morning so the body was believed to have come in with the tide this afternoon, a police spokeswoman said.

Searchers have not seen any sign of her missing boyfriend Connor Hayes, 25.

Police will continue their focus on the beaches for Mr Hayes, the spokeswoman said.

The couple's shattered rental vehicle was discovered in a gorge.
The couple's shattered rental vehicle was discovered in a gorge.

The couple were last seen alive last Tuesday. Their campervan was believed to have been swept off the road by a landslide which blocked an area of State Highway 6 between Gates of Haast Bridge and Haast Pass Summit.

The van's chassis was found wrapped around a large boulder in the Haast River on Tuesday this week and has now been retrieved from the river.

A seat from the van has also been found.

Mr Hayes' older brother Liam said earlier this week the family was holding out hope the couple were alive.

"Connor brought Joanna to New Zealand to get her settled for her new job. (They have) both done a lot of travelling before," Mr Hayes said.

Connor Hayes had been due to start training to join the police on his return to Canada.

"They were having a great time. He had been sending e-mail updates to my family; the last one on September 8. He was going on a glacier tour on the 10th and that's his last-known whereabouts."

Ms Lam's friend Tamara Sagadore told CBC News the couple had been dating for almost two years.

Traffic was now able to use one lane of State Highway 6. The road would be open during daylight hours only - from 8am to 6pm - for the foreseeable future.

The New Zealand Transport Agency's West Coast area manager Mark Pinner, said usage of the road depended on the weather.

"We expect only one lane of the highway will be available for some time.

"Our on-going challenge with managing the site is that the slip face hasn't settled completely.

"Today's rain shows just how easily the slip can be reactivated."

- APNZ

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