Police are "keeping an open mind" about the whereabouts of a mother of four who was last seen at Punakaiki a month ago.
West Coast police said today the search for Shelley Crooks had been broadened, after focusing on the Punakaiki to Fox River area of the Coast Road in the past few days.
The missing mother of four has not used her eftpos card since she stayed at the Punakaiki campground on December 22. She was apparently heading to Opotiki to spend Christmas with her children but failed to arrive.
Detective sergeant Kirsten Norton, of the Greymouth CIB, said the search had been widened based on information received by police, although they conducted further inquiries in and around Punakaiki yesterday.
"These inquiries have helped us to more clearly understand Shelley's movements around December 21-22," Ms Norton said.
With the assistance of other areas, Coast police were continuing to work through "potential sightings" of the missing woman -- based on information received by police following appeals.
"As we are still working though these potential sightings, we are unable to provide any specific details at this time.
While Shelley has not yet been located, we continue to keep an open mind about her whereabouts," Ms Norton said.
Meanwhile, "screams" heard behind Punakaiki about the time Ms Crooks was thought to be in the area in the week before Christmas may in fact have been kid goats.
A pair of overseas tourists in the Inland Pack Track area reported hearing noises about December 21-22.
They reported that to a local horse trekking operator, who in turn passed it on to the police.
Hydrangea Cottages and Punakaiki Horse Treks co-proprietor Neil Mouat said the location reported by the overseas pair to his staff was not necessarily specific "from the point of view where they might have been".
Police asked Mr Mouat to check out the area himself, based on where the tourists said they were and what they had apparently heard. At the time, he had concluded the noise reported could have been from kids in the area.
It was considered "a coincidence in date and time" and the police were aware of that possibility, Mr Mouat said.
In the meantime, local residents were "hoping for the best" and doing everything they could to assist, keeping in mind that many missing persons cases eventually "resolve themselves".
Meanwhile, the Punakaiki campground today clarified that they got it wrong yesterday when they said Ms Crooks had stayed there the same time as movie star Sasha Barron Cohen and his family.
In fact, they had stayed there a little earlier.
- Greymouth Star