Emotions ran high as a British woman was reunited with her husband after spending 16 hours lost in the bush near Rotorua's Blue Lake.

A LandSar team found the tourist, in her 50s, on a track south of Tikitapu (Blue Lake) shortly before 1pm. She was missing for just over 16 hours.

Police said it appeared the woman took a wrong turn on what was supposed to be a short run, and got lost. She was shaken by her experience, but was otherwise unhurt.

As he waited to be reunited, the woman's husband said he wanted to "thank profusely" the search and rescue team, police, the holiday park and "everyone who put the word out to find her".


At 1.45pm a Timberlands vehicle with search and rescue squad members brought the woman back to the Top 10 Blue Lake Holiday Park.

The reunion was blocked from public view, but Holiday Park owner Sheryl Murray, who was with them, said it was quite emotional for the pair. She admitted she also welled up with tears.

Police and volunteers resumed the search in the Blue Lake area this morning. Photo /Ben Fraser
Police and volunteers resumed the search in the Blue Lake area this morning. Photo /Ben Fraser

She said they were now leaving the couple to recover from the ordeal.

She did not believe the incident had clouded the couple's holiday in New Zealand or Tikitapu. "We are absolutely thrilled it ended this way."

Senior Constable Zane Conder, who led the search, said it was great work by the two teams of searchers working in the area.

He said the woman spotted their vehicle on a forestry road as she was walking along a track and she immediately tried to be seen.

He said there were two teams of two volunteers and himself, a total of five, searching for the woman. Two police officers searched overnight.

When asked if that was a low number of searchers, Conder said that was about normal.

Police and volunteers resumed the search in the Blue Lake area this morning. Photo /Ben Fraser
Police and volunteers resumed the search in the Blue Lake area this morning. Photo /Ben Fraser

"These people are volunteers and make themselves available when they can. So not everyone can make it on a Thursday. We put the call out and just make use of what we have got."

He said the teams were confident of finding of the woman, it was just "a matter of time".

The woman went for a run about 8.30pm on Wednesday but failed to return and her husband rang police.

Search teams looked all night for the woman and Land Search and Rescue teams, police and volunteers continued the search today.

Support was provided to the woman's husband, who was at Tikitapu waiting with a search member in a campervan.

A police spokeswoman said the woman had been staying at the Top 10 Blue Lake Holiday Park.

Earlier today Murray said walkers and runners got lost "time and time again" but she had never known any to be gone overnight.

She said the ones who got lost usually took a left turn instead of a right onto Tikitapu Rd as they got confused with the name.

Murray, who has owned the park for four years, said it wasn't unusual for runners and walkers to get lost as the track wasn't particularly clear, especially for first-time users.

"They can end up going towards the Green Lake thinking it's part of the track."

A Rotorua woman who regularly uses Tikitapu said the lake was a beautiful place to go for exercise.

"The lake track is somewhere myself and a lot of my friends go for walks and runs as many events are held out there. I often see people exercising alone, or with their dogs and it has always been a safe place to go."

She said the lake track was only 5.5km and it usually only took about an hour to walk.

"Recently, I was out there with some friends and our children and did a bit of an adventure walk around the track. The kids absolutely love it. They get to see the views, the water, and walk among the trees.

"The Blue Lake is the local triathlon club stomping ground, which is used frequently by the many members, with many heading out on their own."