Searchers combing the Tararua Range for signs of missing tramper Darren Myers earlier in the week. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Tararua search area expanded after finds
Searchers do it tough

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

A chocolate wrapper and boot prints believed to be from missing tramper Darren Myers gave searchers a new direction for their efforts yesterday in the Tararua Range.

Myers, 49, has been missing for 10 days after the Wellington-based Briton failed to complete the Tararua’s Northern Circuit on June 1.

The wrapper was found 600 metres below Arete Bivouac where Myers was last known to be.

Search co-ordinator Sergeant Tony Matheson said a search team found the wrapper on Saturday, wedged in rocks in the headwaters of Arete Stream.

“We know he had this brand of chocolate bar with him. The wrapper is in very good condition and has an expiry date of 2020, so we are hopeful it belonged to him.”

Also on Saturday, a second search team found a series of boot prints in mud on the route near the Arete Bivouac.

Matheson said the boot prints were infrequent and indicated a single person travelling on the Northern Crossing route before the recent snow fall.

“Due to the age of the boot prints there is no pattern to assist with identification, but we suspect they belong to Darren and date back to the day he left Arete Bivouac.”

Incident controller Senior Constable Peter Cunningham said the finds had prompted a rethink of plans.

“We were looking in one direction, but now we have to turn around and look at different scenarios.

“The helicopter is deploying two teams north into the Mangahao catchment.

“Teams have been searching in the Arete Stream … as far as they can, but they have been hampered today [Monday] by weather and terrain which has been very steep in there.”

Cunningham said the find had made searchers start to look slightly north of their initial search area.

“Progress is slow today. We haven’t found anything of interest today which is frustrating, and we had to wait until 3pm for our helicopter to be able to get in there.”

There are five teams of three searching.

Cunningham reinforced earlier messages for people to look out for any signs of Myers if they were walking through the park and to leave supplies in huts.

“Any information is good information.”