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'They can't just disappear without a trace' Two women vanished from a Piha track

By Sam Hurley

Vousden's sister in-law, Rachel Vousden, said there was "just something not right" about the disappearances of the women.
Vousden's sister in-law, Rachel Vousden, said there was "just something not right" about the disappearances of the women.

Two women, both disappearing from the same track near Piha, have left police baffled and families asking "what happened?"

"It was heartbreaking, it was absolutely heartbreaking not knowing, and still not knowing," said Darren Roberts, the brother of Cherie Vousden, who vanished in 2012.

She was last seen walking the Mercer Bay loop track, the same track rescuers searched for any sign of Kim Bambus.

Roberts said it was tragic no clues had yet been found to indicate what happened.

"We were fortunate enough to have an eyewitness account that [Cherie] was in the area that evening, and that certainly helped us."

The Mercer Loop track area near Phia is described as "unforgiving". Photo / Michael Craig
The Mercer Loop track area near Phia is described as "unforgiving". Photo / Michael Craig

Vousden, a 42-year-old North Shore mother, frequented the track often, her brother said.

"She loved the sunsets out there, she would come back home with the daisies she had picked from Log Race Rd."

Vousden, who left behind a now 13-year-old daughter, was last seen by tourists walking along the track with jandals and a bottle of wine in her hand on December 22, 2012.

Her car was found unlocked in the same carpark Bambus' vehicle was found, both parked near the entrance to the track (also known as the Ahu Ahu Track).

Kim Bambus' disappearance is eerily similar to another on the track in 2012. Photo / Supplied
Kim Bambus' disappearance is eerily similar to another on the track in 2012. Photo / Supplied

Bambus, a Middlemore Hospital nurse, hasn't been seen or heard from since Friday morning. She had told friends she was going for a run along the trail.

The 21-year-old's friends also said she was familiar with the area, after moving to Auckland about four years ago from the Bay of Islands.

"I have a lot of empathy for what they're going through at the moment," Roberts said of Bambus' family and friends.

"It is certainly on our minds a lot and it has of course come flooding back ... we spent many weeks up there searching, after authorities had exhausted their search, with friends and family we carried on searching up there for a good couple of weeks."

Cherie Vousden was last seen by tourists walking along the track in 2012. Photo / Supplied
Cherie Vousden was last seen by tourists walking along the track in 2012. Photo / Supplied

Waitemata Detective Inspector Hayden Mander said searchers looking for Bambus will scour the Mercer Bay cliff area based on information about her activities in the days before her disappearance.

Before Bambus drove to the track, she was also seen buying snacks from the Countdown supermarket on Williamson Ave in Ponsonby.

Vousden's sister in-law, Rachel Vousden, said there was "just something not right" about the disappearances of the women.

"These girls are just going about their daily activities ... they can't just disappear without a trace," she told the Herald.


"I was part of the search [for Cherie], I've been out there every year and it's the same as it was then ... you follow the track, it's very hard to go off the track, it's very dense bush.

"That was [Cherie's] thinking spot, she went there regularly, just like it sounds like with [Kim], she went there regularly running.

"What I can understand from [Kim's family] is the wonder ... why haven't we found anything yet?"

A coroner's report concluded that Vousden likely drowned in the ocean, however Roberts said "there is always that thought of other scenarios".

It was feared she may have fallen from the near 300m-high cliffs into the water.

"It's a very unforgiving area," Roberts said of the seaside cliffs, the highest in the Auckland region. "It's the same height as the Sky Tower."

Australian woman Fiona Hamilton fell 60m to her death along the track in 2006, hitting a ledge about 50 metres from the bottom and dying instantly.

Rachel added: "If they are falling into the ocean, why is nothing floating up, why is nothing showing up?"

Iraena Asher mysteriously disappeared near Piha in 2004. Photo / Supplied
Iraena Asher mysteriously disappeared near Piha in 2004. Photo / Supplied

Iraena Asher also disappeared from the Piha area in 2004. She was last seen walking towards the beach by a couple walking their dog about 2am on October 11, 2004.

Although her body was never found, a 2012 coroner's inquest ruled she had likely drowned, and that her death was accidental.

- NZ Herald

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