A missing girl and a grieving mother.

A dark underbelly of drugs and gangs.

Theories, suspects and 25 years without answers.

But a new podcast series by the New Zealand Herald aims to bring a new focus to one of our most mysterious missing person cases.


This month marks the 25-year anniversary of the disappearance of 2-and-a-half-year-old Amber-Lee Cruickshank.

• READ MORE: Chasing Ghosts - The baffling disappearance of Amber-Lee

The Herald has been investigating the cold case in a bid to generate some answers for the toddler's family.

Today, we release Chasing Ghosts, a six-part podcast series, news feature and mini-documentary about the case - one of the most well known mysteries in New Zealand history.
Amber-Lee vanished on October 17, 1992 at Kingston, a small town at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

She was there with her mother Nicola Cruickshank, stepfather James Gill and baby brother Danny.

Despite exhaustive searches of the lake, town and surrounding bush, there has never been any sign of Amber-Lee.

Chasing Ghosts was researched and written by senior crime reporter Anna Leask.

Visual journalist Mike Scott did the field recording and produced the mini-documentary.


You can listen the six-part series by clicking on the embedded audio files below. Alternatively you can listen on newstalkzb.co.nz,

iHeartRadio or download the episodes via iTunes.

Chasing Ghosts is the Herald's first serialised podcast.

Leask and Scott had unprecedented access to Amber-Lee's mother, Nicola Cruickshank, and others closely connected to the case, including both police officers who have led the investigation.

They also spoke, for the first time, the people considered of interest to police.

Chasing Ghosts tells Amber-Lee's story in unflinching and enormous detail.

Leask said the project aims to bring fresh attention to case in the hope that someone comes forward with information that could help bring Amber-Lee home.

"This case has always fascinated me, and I have never been able to fathom how - in a town as small as Kingston - Amber-Lee could just vanish, that no clues have ever been found.

"I wanted to go back and speak to the key people, see if I could find any new information.

"At the very least, I wanted to make sure everyone knew about Amber-Lee and what happened to her, dispel some of the myths around the case and hopefully encourage the people with answers to come forward."

The Herald’s new podcast Chasing Ghosts investigates the case of missing toddler Amber Lee Cruickshank in 1992.

Leask and Scott spent many hours interviewing Nicola, and for the first time her sons Harley, Danny and Jacob.

Nicola said the day she lost Amber-Lee was the worst day of her life.

"It's something I've lived through for the last 25 years, day in, day out always wondering what went wrong that day and what happened and was there anything I could have done to change that.

"I've always been motivated to find out what happened to Amber-Lee - that's why I've done all these interviews.

"As hard as they are to stand here in front of a camera and talk about what happened, I do it for the sheer fact that I want answers.

"By some miracle, someone 25 years ago may be here watching this and go 'hey I remember that case and I remember da da da' and that could be that little bit of evidence crucial to finding the whereabouts of where Amber is."

She vowed to keep searching for answers until her "dying breath".

"I'm not going to stop looking not until the day I get some answers or she comes home," she said. "I'm never going to stop. It's all about Amber-Lee."

Detective Sergeant John Kean, the officer in charge of Amber-Lee's case. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mike Scott
Detective Sergeant John Kean, the officer in charge of Amber-Lee's case. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mike Scott

Detective Sergeant John Kean is the officer in charge of Amber-Lee's case, dubbed Operation Oliver. He worked with the Herald on the podcast.

"We would just love to go to Nicky and give her the answers that she deserves," he said.

"We certainly can't discount the fact that someone who was already at Kingston on the 17th of October 1992 holds the key to the disappearance of Amber-Lee Cruickshank.

"There must be someone out there that knows, there has to be someone that knows."

Help bring Amber-Lee home

If you know what happened to Amber-Lee, or have information you have never shared with police that could help the investigation - please come forward.
Contact Detective Sergeant John Kean at the Invercargill police on 021 191 5321 or email john.kean@police.govt.nz.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or fill out their online form here.

This service is completely confidential and you do not have to reveal your identity. Police have no way of tracing who passes on tips to Crimestoppers.
You can also email anna.leask@nzherald.co.nz.


• iHeart Radio https://www.iheart.com/podcast/211-Chasing-Ghosts-28579572/
• iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/chasing-ghosts/id1299949050?mt=2