A search and rescue operation is under way in Queenstown after an Australian tourist failed to return from a day walk on Ben Lomond.

Robert Galdamez was last seen at 3.10pm yesterday at the top of Skyline's gondola - he last made contact via his tablet with an associate just after 6pm.

Sergeant Terry Wood said the message from the 25-year-old said he ''wasn't sure where he was'', was not "too comfortable" and believed it would be dark soon.

Police were contacted about 8pm and began searching, Sgt Wood said.

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About 10 SAR members are searching the mountain, which included the Skyline area and the One Mile area, with a helicopter also searching the tracks.

Sergeant Chris Brooks, of Queenstown, hands posters to Australian visitors Emma Potter, with Kirby (10 months) and Sarah Glennan at the base of the Skyline Gondola. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh
Sergeant Chris Brooks, of Queenstown, hands posters to Australian visitors Emma Potter, with Kirby (10 months) and Sarah Glennan at the base of the Skyline Gondola. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh

Officers at the base of the Skyline complex are also handing out posters to anyone going up the mountain.

Sgt Wood said Mr Galdamez, who was wearing a green North Face puffer jacket, blue Nike shoes and black sports leggings had plans only to do a day walk.

"[He] certainly wasn't prepared to go out for the evening. He has no food and very little water.''

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.