Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Family of found hunter: 'He's still got his cheeky smile'

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The family of a hunter missing in bush as temperatures dropped to near freezing are relieved he has been found and still has his "cheeky smile".

Matthew Whiti, AKA Gibb, went missing on the Tararua Ranges at Makihika, near Levin on Tuesday night. Fears were raised for the 27-year-old's safety as temperatures dropped to 2C overnight as it was believed Mr Whiti wasn't prepared to stay out all night.

Search and Rescue in an Air Force NH90 scouring the area found the missing hunter about midday near a stream.

A medic was winched down to support the hunter who was picked up and flown to Levin Showgrounds and an awaiting ambulance.

When NZME arrived at the showgrounds Mr Whiti was being treated by paramedics but his very concerned sister Chanelle McLean, said they were relieved the "keen hunter" had been found.

They had been worried all night, she said.

"He was walking with a bit of a limp but he's still got his cheeky smile," she said.

It is understood Mr Whiti may have injured his leg and be experiencing hypothermia.

A police spokesman said the alarm was raised by his hunting companion on Tuesday when he turn up where they were had agreed to meet.

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