Two children who went missing after a bushwalk in Southland have been found.
Southland District Mayor Rob Scott said the children, an eight-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl, had been found by a search party.
“They are being helicoptered back to base and will then get checked out by a medical team,” Scott said.
The mayor said he was “elated and rapt” when police called him with the news.
”Full credit goes out to the team on the ground, they had the right people there, they would have been relentlessly looking.
“Everyone would’ve been hoping for this outcome … you kind of fear the worst but hope for the best and so, so pleased they’ve been found.
“I bet there’s elation on the ground too.”
Scott told the Otago Daily Times this morning it was a “brilliant” result.
“It’s obviously a very good outcome, and full credit to the team who have been working relentlessly through the night and today.”
It was wonderful they had survived the ordeal, and everyone would be feeling relieved. This was especially so for the family, for whom every minute must have felt like a day while the children were missing, he said.
The two children had left the campground at the northern end of Mavora Lakes Rd around 2.30pm yesterday for a walk in the bush.
Police were alerted around 5.15pm when the children had not returned.
Southland Police area commander Mike Bowman said searchers located the children around 10am in a clearing near the lake - around 1.5km from the campground.
“Police wish to thank everyone who was involved in the search overnight and this morning, including volunteers who travelled from around the Southern region to join the search.”
After police were alerted yesterday afternoon, a search group spent the night looking for them in cold and rainy conditions. Another 30 people joined the search at first light today.
A helicopter was brought in to assist the search along with Police personnel, search dogs, and volunteers from Land Search and Rescue and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications.
Weather reports from the surrounding area showed that temperatures may have fallen as low as 5C overnight. MetService said early morning rain was expected in the area, easing to isolated showers and then fine spells.
Earlier this morning, Scott said the news of the missing children came as a shock.
“I can only imagine the stress the family are under,” he said. “It’s not a situation that anyone wants to find themselves in.”
The total search party was 45 people strong.
“There’s a real strong search and rescue team, they’ve got dogs and a helicopter up there and they’ll be having a good look, so fingers crossed.”
Scott said that in nearby Te Anau there was light rain last night and temperatures of between 6-7C.
“So it’s not a freezing Southland winter’s day but certainly not the warmest either.”
The campground in the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park is in an isolated spot around 90 minutes’ drive from Te Anau. It was a popular location in summer, where holidaymakers went fishing, boating, hunting and tramping.
“It’s pretty remote,” Scott said. “You’ve got a big lake there and then a bit of forestry to walk through. It’s a fairly contained area with the mountains around it which I guess will help with the search effort. But it is pretty remote, you haven’t got cellphone reception.”
Police were asking anyone in the area yesterday to get in contact if they had seen anything or could provide information which could assist the search.