Missing hunter: Something has gone 'tragically wrong'

Corey Stephens with his wife Elie and baby Koriniti. Photo / Stewart Nimmo
Corey Stephens with his wife Elie and baby Koriniti. Photo / Stewart Nimmo

West Coast police searching for a missing Hokitika hunter missing for more than a week say signs indicate something has gone "tragically wrong".

West Coast police search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Sean Judd said today's search had not revealed anything, and efforts would now be scaled back.

Corey Stephens, 35, was last heard from on Tuesday last week when he embarked on a week-long hunting trip into the hills behind Hari Hari.

A search was launched on Sunday after he failed to arrive at the Wanganui Bridge car park on Friday. He was carrying a personal locator beacon, however it has not been activated.

Several land search and rescue teams have so far scoured the valley which the Wanganui River south of Hokitika runs through, and a swift water rescue team and a helicopter had also been deployed.

Mr Judd said today's search efforts hadn't gone well.

"There's nothing to report today, we're scaling things back as well so yeah, not a good day."

Search teams today had scoured the lower reaches of the Wanganui river and along the beach, he said.

"We know the areas that we need to look at, so we no longer require an incident management team.

"Operation-wise [there's going to be] a lot less people involved. We're just going to go back to some of these same areas over the next few days.

"As the river levels continue to drop and the conditions change a bit we'll just keep looking," Mr Judd said.

A tarpaulin and a distinctive hat belonging to Mr Stephens had been found so far, but there had been no other signs of the missing hunter, he said.

"Those were essentially pulled out of the river. Those are leading us to the conclusion that something's gone tragically wrong."

A aerial search involving a helicopter would also take place again tomorrow, Mr Judd said.

- APNZ

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