Police are optimistic they will find an "experienced and very fit" British tramper missing near Makarora as her desperate family waits for news from the search.

Concern has been growing for Stephanie Simpson, who failed to turn up for work yesterday after heading into Mt Aspiring National Park over the weekend.

Haast sergeant Mark Kirkwood, who is in charge of the search and rescue, said Simpson was "reasonably experienced and very fit".

The overnight temperatures have not been very cold and the rivers were not as high as they have been recently, he added.


Simpson, from Essex, was reported missing around 8.45am yesterday when she failed to keep an appointment.

Kirkwood said she was on a day hike to Mt Brewster Hut and had planned to walk up to the glacier about 2km north of the hut.

Fears for missing Southland tramper
Fears grow for missing British tramper Stephanie Simpson
Clues found in search for missing tramper Darren Myers in the Tararua Ranges
Body of missing tramper Darren Myers found in Tararua Range

She also planned to visit Blue Pools, near Makarora. She was carrying a day pack and did not take a search and rescue beacon with her.

He said there were currently three search and rescue teams on the ground and another was on the way from Westport and expected to join the search shortly.

A Wanaka team was walking in from Makarora towards the route by Mt Kaye, a Wanaka Landsar team was walking from Fantail Falls up to Mt Brewster hut and a Fox Alpine Cliff rescue team was walking from Mt Armstrong towards Brewster glacier and they also have a search dog with them, he said.

Members of the public wereat the Fantail Falls car park from 7.15 am waiting to join the search and others have been calling in throughout the day.

Family desperate for news following foot search today

The family of missing British tramper Stephanie Simpson are desperate for news from the foot search underway to try and find her today.


The 32-year-old was trekking in Mt Aspiring National Park over the weekend and failed to return when she intended - sparking concerns for her welfare.

Friends earlier told the Herald they had not heard from Simpson since Friday and her family were "really hoping" for news, a spokesperson said today.

"Until they get some news, [the family] are in the dark. Just really hoping we may hear something today from the foot searches," the spokesperson said.

"The response to help spread the word to any trampers who have been in the area over the weekend has been very much appreciated.

"The police, search and rescue and friends are all trying very hard for her safe return."

Stephanie Simpson, 32, has been missing since Friday. Photo / Supplied
Stephanie Simpson, 32, has been missing since Friday. Photo / Supplied

Search and rescue crews continued their search for Simpson in the Makarora area this morning, police said in a statement.

Fox Glacier Alpine cliff rescue team, a search dog and handler, and Wanaka LandSAR volunteers were all involved.

"The search area encompasses Fantail Falls to Mt Brewster, the Brewster Hut and Mt Armstrong track, and also Makarora Valley," the statement said.

"If anyone was on the track over the weekend who stayed in the Cameron Flat area on Friday and may have spoken to Stephanie, or anyone who may have seen her on the track from Fantail Falls to Mt Armstrong, or in Makarora Valley, please let Police know on 105."

Simpson has been working as a landscape gardener for Wanaka company Doug the Gardener, the Otago Daily Times reported.

Her employer, Douglas Peddle, said she had been in Wanaka for the past three months on a working holiday and was a keen tramper and had lots of hiking equipment.

"She's very fit and healthy, she came over from the UK and was keen to explore everything this region has to offer.

"She's been doing a few tramps in the area and went away last weekend," he said.

Crews continue to search for missing British tramper Stephanie Simpson today. Photo / Supplied
Crews continue to search for missing British tramper Stephanie Simpson today. Photo / Supplied

Her family were very concerned but were keeping their fingers crossed for good news today as the search progressed.

"It's hard not to think the worst but they are trying to stay positive."

Peddle, who is in Haast helping with the search effort, said the weather in the area had been settled over the weekend.

"Hopefully, she just needs a helping hand to get out."

Peddle said Simpson was a good friend whom he had known in England.

Simpson was reported missing at 8.45am on Monday and it was unclear if she was tramping alone.

A close friend of Simpson earlier told the Herald it would have just been "another weekend away tramping" for Simpson.

Her disappearance comes after heavy rain battered areas of Southland and Otago last week, with rising rivers inundating low-lying homes, businesses and farms.

A state of emergency was declared in flooded Southland, where roads were closed and a steady downpour left homes and farms sodden.

The swollen rivers may have also been responsible for the deaths of two trampers who got into trouble while heading into the Mt Aspiring National Park.

Additional reporting from Otago Daily Times.