An English tourist spent a cold night in the bush after "breaking several basic rules for tramping", police say.

The 30-year-old man and two companions were on a day walk near Franz Josef Glacier on Saturday when they took a wrong turn and became lost. The man then abandoned his companions and headed off in what he believed was the right direction.

The two companions managed to find their way back to the carpark and after waiting for three hours for their friend, raised the alarm.

Two search teams failed to locate the man on Saturday night but on Sunday morning, LandSar volunteers from Fox Glacier, Franz Josef and Hokitika started searching and he was located about 1pm, several kilometres from his intended route.


Detective Mat Tailby said the man had a water bottle and a jacket but was not carrying any food so was exhausted and hungry when he was found.

He said the group had not left any information about their intended route and it was lucky the companions had made their way out or "it could have been some time before their disappearance was reported".

"These people broke some of the simplest rules of tramping by splitting up and not leaving intentions," Mr Tailby said.

"Thankfully in this instance there has been a positive outcome, but it serves as a timely reminder to anyone else intending to go into the outdoors to take adequate precautions to ensure their safety."

Police thanked the LandSar volunteers involved in the search.