She was dehydrated after going missing for four days on a country road, but it didn't stop an elderly woman from playing tennis as usual.

Tai Luxford, from Palmerston North, was advised by her family to take a break after her ordeal. She had after all just left hospital and was still getting her fluids up to normal.

Now she's back on the court, four days a week.

It has been a remarkable recovery for the 73-year-old dementia sufferer, whose absence late last month sparked a huge search.


Ms Luxford survived a lonely ordeal on a rural Rangitikei Rd after she crashed her car into a bush.

After a game of tennis on the morning of February 25, she was last seen buying fuel in Bulls.

Her whereabouts were a mystery until February 28, when a farmer found her on Okirae Rd, Fordell, east of Whanganui. She was almost 90km from home.

Daughter Cally Luxford told the Herald at the time her mother said she could remember leaving her vehicle after it crashed into brush.

"She said she got out of the car, climbed up a bank, got on to the top of the cliff and had a little sleep," Ms Luxford said.

But when she woke up she told family she was worried she wouldn't be able to find the car again.

"Then God came and showed her where to go," Ms Luxford said. "He said, 'Come with me, I'll take you to the car', and they were walking around and she got back in it."

She also recalled waiting for family to show up, wondering where they were. "She had been looking around for us," Ms Luxford said.

Few other details are known about what she went through and her family are trying not to dwell on the ordeal.

Yesterday, her niece Maryanne Ferris said Ms Luxford spent a night in Whanganui Hospital and was discharged the next day.

"She has recovered really well. I think she looked great for the fact she was misplaced for four days."

Physically fine apart from a few scrapes and bruises, Ms Luxford needed to be rehydrated, however.

"[She's] probably a little bit confused still but we're sort of moving on from that. There's no point in dwelling on it," Mrs Ferris said.

Ms Luxford won't be driving again, but that hasn't stopped her getting out of the house.

She resumed tennis last week and was on court four mornings a week.

"She wanted to play in the first week she was home. We just had a giggle and were like, for real? That's the type of person she is. It's consistent throughout the family. They are all like that."

The search for Ms Luxford dominated the news for a couple of days and Mrs Ferris said her family was grateful for everybody's help.

A Facebook page she created to raise awareness about her missing aunt was followed by 22,000 people in a matter of hours.

"The community was amazing, even on Facebook. I always think some negative things can come from the public, but there was only one [such] comment ... the whole time.

"Everything else on there was so positive and gave us hope.

"I know for a fact that people in distant communities were looking for her and that was amazing."

Mrs Ferris said she was still receiving texts asking after Ms Luxford.


11am Thursday

: Tai Luxford, 73, is seen leaving the Palmerston North suburb of Awapuni in her Subaru hatchback.

About midday: Drove to Fielding and knocked on the door of a woman's house to ask directions. Ms Luxford followed the woman in her car back toward Palmerston North but ended up driving off in the direction of Bulls.

12.30pm: Ms Luxford used her Eftpos card to buy fuel at BP in Bulls and was not seen for another three days.

5.30pm Sunday: Farmer finds her on Okirae Rd in Fordell, about 86km from Awapuni.