One of Tauranga's outstanding young achievers has died while hiking in Poland.
Elliot Buckley, 23, had been trekking in the Gasienicowa Valley in the Tatra Mountains. He entered the national park on May 10, and his body was found beside the track above the snowline early on the morning of May 11.
The Tatras form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland and Mr Buckley was a keen tramper and outdoorsman.
Mr Buckley's parents Ken and Colleen and his brother Isaac have flown to Poland to identify him. Mr Buckley would be cremated, and the family would return to New Zealand with the ashes, where a memorial would be held in a few weeks,
The New Zealand Consulate is assisting the Buckley family.
Mr Buckley's body was airlifted to Zakopane, a town in the south of the country, and a post-mortem examination would be carried out to establish exactly how he died.
Early reports suggested weather conditions were "not the best".
Mr Buckley's uncle Loyd Buckley said the 23-year-old had "a lot to give" and had been going places academically.
"He was an academic that's for sure. There was a lot of promise. It was all way beyond my comprehension what he could do with science."
Mr Buckley had a "bloody great love for the outdoors" as well, and had been backpacking around Europe, sending back "beautiful photos" and stories to his family in Tauranga.
The last time his uncle had seen him was late last year before Mr Buckley went overseas.
His uncle said Mr Buckley had been planning on doing a doctorate in either Munich or London and had been exploring before settling down to do that.
The former Tauranga Boys' College student sat university papers while still at school and achieved several scholarships during his time there.
He completed a degree in electrical engineering in Auckland before heading to Wellington to work for GNS Science. He returned to Tauranga to work at Page Macrae Engineering.
Acting principal Ian Stuart said Elliot was an "amazing young man in a number of different areas".
"He was a genuine, great guy. It's obviously come as a shock to our community. His teachers hold fond, fond memories of Elliot and just how he conducted himself around the school."
Mr Stuart said Mr Buckley's talents were obvious. He received an outstanding scholarship in physics putting him in the top 3 per cent of New Zealand for that level. He also topped a University of Waikato paper while still at school.
Mr Stuart said Mr Buckley also excelled at maths and also achieved a scholarship in that subject as well.
"From that, he was offered a scholarship to enter Auckland, which he took up.
It has come as an absolute shock. He was a great young man and had such a bright future.
"There were a number of strings to his bow really. He was on our board of trustees as a student representative from 2010 to 2011. He enjoyed playing the piano and had done that for a number of years. He was obviously a very keen tramper and keen skier. The whole family were into that."
"It's a tragic loss. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. It has come as an absolute shock. He was a great young man and had such a bright future."
Staff at Page Macrae declined to comment.
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