UK family can't afford to fly body from NZ

By Heather McCracken

Robert Buckley. Photo / Echo
Robert Buckley. Photo / Echo

The family of a British climber killed in New Zealand have said they can't afford to fly his body home or attend his funeral.

Robert Buckley, 31, died while climbing Mt Sefton in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park on September 14.

Mr Buckley, from Shoebury in Essex, had been living in Christchurch for a year.

His family told the Echo newspaper they could not afford the GBP5000 (NZD$9663) cost of bringing his body home, and were resigned to missing his cremation in New Zealand.

His mother Gill Ray, a part-time cleaner, said a friend in New Zealand was arranging the ceremony.

"Flying 24 hours to get there, knowing what you're going there for, is not something I want to go through. And of course the cost of flying there is another thing I can't afford," she told the newspaper.

The family had thought Mr Buckley's travel insurance would allow them to bring his body home, but were told because he had been resident in New Zealand for more than six months, it was no longer valid.

"I was really angry about it, but it is hard to think straight at the moment, to be honest," she said.

"It is such a hard time. I can't get used to talking about him saying how he 'was' instead of how he 'is'."

The family would instead be flying his ashes home from New Zealand after the funeral.

Mr Buckley had attempted to climb to Sefton Bivvy from Mt Cook Village on September 14 with three other young men.

He was within 80 meters of the bivvy when he slipped and fell 700 metres to his death, police said.

Police described the climbers as being inexperienced and insufficiently equipped for the climb.

- APNZ

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