A Dutch tourist whose remains washed up on a coastline had accidentally fallen from a cliff, a coroner has ruled.
Ken Boogers, 25, went missing from Golden Bay on the northern tip of the South Island on March 21, 2015.
The well-liked Boogers had been in New Zealand since 2014. He had been volunteering as head barista at the Farewell Spit Cafe in exchange for food and accommodation, but planned to leave to continue his travels, coroner Carla na Nagara said.
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Friends described Boogers as a happy, "spiritual" man who spent much of his time alone meditating. Although he was not an experienced tramper, he enjoyed short walks and was a keen rock-climber who liked exploring caves.
On the morning of Saturday, March 21, Boogers had set off from the Wharariki Holiday Park where he was staying, heading out on a Department of Conservation-owned trail.
A dinner was being held that weekend for his cafe colleagues to say goodbye. He had bought groceries in preparation for the dinner, and was looking forward to cooking for his former colleagues, the coroner said.
March 21 was a clear, sunny day with a light breeze. The trail Boogers had chosen ran from Wharariki Beach across open farm land toward Puponga, traversing exposed cliff tops to a viewing area called Cape Farewell. It usually takes between 3-5 hours to walk.
Access to the shoreline is limited but a small beach east of Cape Farewell was relatively easy to get to, and contained a small sea cave, the coroner noted.
The well-marked trail had warning signs along it. DoC recommended trampers wear sturdy shoes, but Boogers had set off barefoot - which the coroner noted was not unusual for him. Boogers was also prone to heading off on long walks or to meditate by himself.
He told a friend that morning he would see her later. She was the last friend to see him alive.
Boogers had a reputation for being spontaneous and sometimes would leave places without warning anyone. But friends became concerned when Boogers didn't show up for his farewell dinner.
They called the owner of the cafe and holiday park, Dion Leigh, who told them to check if Boogers' belongings were still at the campsite.
After Boogers' friends found his bag, phone and wallet, Leigh called the police on March 22 and reported the tourist missing.
An official search began the next day, and his parents arrived from the Netherlands on March 26. The search was called off on March 29 although his family kept looking for some time before flying home on April 9.
On April 20, local tourist guide Murray Marshall found partial human remains on Farewell Spit. Eight days later he discovered more remains nearby.
The remains were sent to a forensic pathologist who matched them to Boogers' dental records and DNA samples from his parents.
A post-mortem examination determined that Boogers' left femur and spine were fractured, suggesting he had fallen from a height.
Three years later, the coronial enquiry has found it was impossible to be certain why Boogers fell. But there was no evidence of stabbing or gun shot wounds or that his injuries were caused by another person, the coroner said.
He also seemed to be in good spirits before his death.
"Friends and former colleagues regarded Mr Boogers as a happy and content man," the coroner said. "He was very spiritual and enjoyed meditation."
Investigating police officer Detective John Nicholls believes Boogers fell from a cliff top or may have been climbing a cliff to escape a rising king tide, the coroner said.
"I would like to take this opportunity to extend my condolences to Mr Boogers' family and friends on their tragic loss."