While the ground search was suspended for the day police have taken to the air to continue the search for missing autistic man Nigel Peterson.

Senior Constable Zane Conder, from Rotorua police, and a search and rescue volunteer -
who had been given the day off by his employer Scion to help out - used a loaned private helicopter.

The two hours fly time was donated by Murupara-based helicopter company Heli Resources NZ.

Heli Resources NZ chief executive Tony Bradley said the police had searched his property as part of their sweep of the area around Old Taupo Rd.


When he then saw that Petersen had yet to be found he got in touch.

"We have our own family and children too, so there has always been a strong feeling that we should help people."

Bradley said his company had been involved in a number of searches in the past.

"Aviation plays a key role in the search and rescue industry. We expect that when someone goes missing, we can get up there and help."

The helicopter was used to check the edges of State Highway 5 and the large areas of open land around the Highlands Rd area.

Bradley said he had his fingers crossed they would find something.

"There's a lot of open country between Rotorua and Rainbow Mountain, this is a way to cover it quickly."

Photo/Stephen Parker
Photo/Stephen Parker

Constable Colin Fraser, who leads the Rotorua Search and Rescue Squad, said unfortunately the helicopter had no luck.


Tomorrow the police will carry out a re-search in the high likelihood areas and continue to make inquiries around CCTV cameras.

"I mean, we're still hopeful," Fraser said. "Somebody will have seen him, and somebody will know something. It's just getting all of that information through to us."

Fraser said there had been a large turnout of Land Search and Rescue people, who had needed a rest today.

"They've worked some really long hours in really hard conditions, and they're all keen to keep searching."

He said even today while they were on stand-down texts were flooding in from searchers hoping Petersen had been found. "We will be back into it tomorrow."

Peterson, 33, who was under 24-hour care, was with a caregiver just after 3pm on Friday, November 17, when he got out of the car on Otonga Rd. He was last seen on Old Taupo Rd and, after reviewing CCTV footage, police believe he made his way south.

Peterson is slim and of medium height. He was believed to have been wearing a green T-shirt, light brown pants, brown sneakers and possibly a denim jacket.