An array of posters are plastered on a Rangiora store window.

"Save the Animals" reads one, "Community Choir Xmas Concert" reads another. Among them – "Missing Person, Have you seen Emma Beattie?"

The young woman's smiling face beams out of every second shop window at everyone walking down the main street.

Posters are stapled onto nearly every tree – grasping onto the bark fighting hard against the wind.

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Why would a 20-year-old woman venture out into the rough rural landscape alone in the dead of night?

It's what police are trying to answer in the gruelling search for missing North Canterbury woman, Emma Beattie.

Read more: Where is Emma Beattie?

On the sixth day of Beattie's disappearance, helicopters circle overhead while Land Search and Rescue volunteers, police and dog teams scour through thick native bush on the ground.

Entwined within the rural farmland is the Ashley River, where a five to six kilometre stretch along its bank has become the central focus of the missing person's investigation.

Emma Beattie, 20, went missing on Friday December 1. Volunteers have been battling the hot, dry conditions in Ashley River area to try to find her.
Emma Beattie, 20, went missing on Friday December 1. Volunteers have been battling the hot, dry conditions in Ashley River area to try to find her.

Five teams and a total of 32 LandSAR volunteers are meticulously exploring the open area – something Senior Sergeant Paul Reeves, who is in charge of the operation, says has been difficult.

"The terrain is pretty scrubby and difficult to penetrate some of it so it takes time to do a methodical search" he said.

WHEN?

On Friday December 1, 20-year-old Emma Beattie left her family home in Fernside at around 11pm on foot with nothing but a brown drawstring rucksack. What she took with her, nobody knows.

Wearing orange and black Nike shoes and possibly carrying a pair of red Beats headphones – police believe she could have been in the Ashley River area on the following Saturday.

They are refusing to confirm whether her bank accounts or cell phone has been used since.

A poster for missing woman Emma Beattie in a shop window in Christchurch Photo / Chelsea Daniels
A poster for missing woman Emma Beattie in a shop window in Christchurch Photo / Chelsea Daniels

Volunteers have battled with the first inkling of a dry, hot summer – with temperatures reaching 30C in the days since her disappearance.

They have swapped out in shifts, gripping onto water bottles as they seek shelter in a frosty air-conditioned car.

WHERE?

Search efforts have focused around the Hillcrest Road area of Ashley River – a stone's throw away from Emma Beattie's family home.

A desolate landscape, the only road leading to the area is made of gravel.

Wind whistles through the leaves of trees, mimicking the sound of the water nearby. A tranquil setting, with the breeze as fresh as the road is dusty.

Read more: Search for Emma Beattie focused on Ashley River area

The trees tower over native bush – a special breeding place for some of the country's most rare and endangered river birds like the wrybill or ngutupare.

Searchers stagger through waist high shrubbery, every second plant has prickles. GPS tracking means they won't cover the same area twice – it's the only thing that will distinguish where they've been and where they're going to look next, as everything looks the same for miles.

Senior Sergeant Reeves said there was a possibility Beattie had left Fernside but searches would remain in the remote area unless new information came to light.

"There have been a few items of interest, but we've cleared those. There's been a set of car keys and a shoe – but neither belonged to Emma." He said.

A view of scrub where search teams are looking for Emma Beattie near Christchurch. Photo / Chelsea Daniels
A view of scrub where search teams are looking for Emma Beattie near Christchurch. Photo / Chelsea Daniels

WHY?

While police have confirmed there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Emma Beattie's disappearance, there are still deep concerns for her safety.

There's no word yet on whether her disappearance is out of character or whether it had happened before. Police say there are no significant events in the days before her disappearance to their knowledge. They won't comment on her mental state at the time of her disappearance.

Read more: No suspicious circumstances surround disappearance of Emma Beattie

Senior Sergeant Paul Reeves said teams are persisting, working as hard as they can to bring Emma home.

"Efforts will increase over the weekend. We're monitoring the situation daily and taking it from there." He said.

WHO IS EMMA BEATTIE?

Friends have described Emma Beattie as
Friends have described Emma Beattie as "the kindest and brightest soul I have ever met".

Emma's social media accounts are filled with happy snaps of her amongst beautiful and picturesque backdrops.

In one she's jumping in the air in front of Diamond Lake, Wanaka with arms wide open wearing a big cheesy grin.

In another, she walks along a beach in Dunedin with a friend, heading towards an orange and pink sunset.

Friends have described her as "the kindest and brightest soul I have ever met" and that her family and friends desperately want her home.

A close relative of Beattie's told the Herald the family was not ready to speak.

Good wishes, thoughts and prayers are a common trend among comments by friends and family online.

Hundreds have shared Emma's photo – all in the hope of her safe return.

Among them, locals have asked where they can drop off sandwiches and home baking – sustenance for search teams working tirelessly in the smouldering sun.

Information on the whereabouts of Emma Beattie can be passed on to Christchurch Police on 03 363 7400 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, and quote the file number 171202/9451.
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