Body discovered by canyoning staff

It is believed the man was canyoning alone at the time of his death in Kauaeranga Valley. Photo / Amos Chapple
It is believed the man was canyoning alone at the time of his death in Kauaeranga Valley. Photo / Amos Chapple

Police say it is unclear how an Auckland man died during a canyoning trip deep in the Coromandel bush.

The 32-year-old's body was found in a creek near Table Mountain, in the Kauaeranga Valley east of Thames, by staff from local canyoning company CanyoNZ on Saturday afternoon.

It is believed the man was canyoning alone at the time of his death but how he came to grief remains a mystery.

"He was canyoning -- he had all the ropes and gear with him -- but quite what he was doing at the time or how he ended up in the creek at the bottom, we don't know," Waikato Police Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend said.

"Whether he was trying to climb up or down a cliff, or go through the bottom of the river below, we don't know and that's what we are trying to work out."

Despite the body being discovered on Saturday evening, it would have been too challenging to retrieve it then, Mr Friend said.

"It was obviously logistically not going to make sense trying to get it out that night, with fading light and the foul weather, so it was done yesterday.

"The operation took most of the day. Search and Rescue staff headed up first thing in the morning and didn't actually get the body out until late afternoon, because it was not an easy mission."

The recovery was assisted by Land SAR Waikato, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and staff from CanyoNZ.

Mr Friend said a thorough scene examination was carried out and an inquiry surrounding the death is now in the hands of the coroner.

A MetService sign had been placed at the entrance to the canyoning area and CanyoNZ had cancelled its trips yesterday because of poor weather and high rivers.

"If someone is just going into the bush for a walk by themselves and following the tracks, then telling someone where they are and having a plan is good," Mr Friend said.

"However, if they plan to go off the tracks and do a more extreme activity like canyoning, they shouldn't be doing it alone -- it should always be done with other people, because if you get into trouble, there's no way anyone can assist you."

The operation came amid a busy 30 hours for Waikato Search and Rescue staff.

Yesterday, they responded to reports of a surfer caught in a rip at Matarangi, who was rescued by other surfers, and a couple who reported themselves lost while hunting in the Kaimai Ranges.

Police said the couple "did all the right things" in staying put and reporting their predicament early, and they were now safely out of the bush.

Last night, a 28-year-old woman was reported lost near Kennedy Bay in Coromandel.

Police said the woman had intended to go on a short afternoon walk but had been by herself. She was later located safe and well.

- NZ Herald

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