Missing British Hiker Found Dead in New Zealand: Police

By Reuters

WELLINGTON—The body of a 49-year-old British hiker who went missing nearly two weeks ago on a mountain range in New Zealand was found on Wednesday, June 12, police said.

Darren Myers appeared to have died from a fall near a waterfall in the Tararua Range outside the capital Wellington, police said.

“It happened very suddenly. I don’t think he suffered at all,” Police Sergeant Tony Matheson said on Radio New Zealand.

“When you’re undertaking a journey like this, there’s always going to be a risk,” he added.

Myers, a British national who lived in Wellington, had been missing since June 1 when he failed to turn up at a designated location during his hiking trip.

“His last communication was a text message to his wife on May 30, describing rapidly deteriorating conditions on the trail,” The London Times reported.

Search operations were hampered by rough terrain and bad weather, including snow.

Thousands of hikers visit New Zealand each year to explore its mountains and wildlife. The Tararua range is popular because it is close to Wellington, but the steep terrain and unpredictable weather can pose a challenge to hikers.

In 2016, Pavlina Pizova, a Czech woman spent nearly a month alone in a warden’s hut on a remote hiking trail on the country’s South Island after her male partner was killed in a fall.

‘Extreme Conditions’

Pizova said she heard Ondrej Petr’s last breath and spent two freezing nights beside the body before leaving to find shelter at a hut at Lake Mackenzie on the country’s South Island.

“As you can imagine the last month was very harrowing for me,” a pale and emotional Pizova told a news conference at Queenstown’s police station.

The pair had become disorientated when heavy snow covered markers on the hiking track before her partner fell to his death.

“The conditions were extreme,” she said. “During this time I got extremely cold, exhausted and my feet were frozen.”

Pizova said she made a few attempts to leave the hut in the past month but exhaustion and avalanches on the trail convinced her it was safer to wait and hope for rescue.

“Pavlina made the right decision to stay put and wait to be rescued,” said Inspector Olaf Jensen of the district police.

She was only found because a consul for the Czech Republic, Vladka Kennett, spotted “a random Facebook post” from fraught relatives in the Czech Republic and informed the authorities.

Pizova expressed her gratitude to the New Zealand Land Search and Rescue, local police and the Department of Conservation for their efforts.

Pizova urged travelers intending to trek through the New Zealand mountains to be informed of the extreme winter weather conditions prior to starting their journey.

“I’m aware we made a few mistakes—not leaving our intentions with somebody, not carrying a personal locator beacon and underestimating the winter conditions,” said Pizova.