• Patrick McBride


The search for missing trampers Dion Reynolds and Jessica O'Connor resumed at first light this morning and it has been confirmed the pair have been rescued after 18 days.

Six teams were flown into the search area by the NZ Defence Force.

The search for signs of the missing pair was centred around the Antori River and the coastline of the Tasman region.

A NZDF NH90 helicopter uplifted the pair to return them to Nelson where they are being medically assessed at Nelson Hospital.

Their initial condition appears very good considering their 19-day ordeal in a hostile environment.

Nelson Bays Area Commander Paul Borrell says, “This is a fantastic outcome and one that we were all hoping for, although we were becoming increasingly concerned as the days progressed.

“I am so very, very proud of our Search and Rescue team made up largely of volunteers and supported by Police.”

This search was particularly challenging being such a remote rugged, bush-clad area.

There were up to 50 people involved made up of Police, NZDF, Fire and Emergency NZ, Land SAR, Department of Conservation's Aoraki/Mount Cook Search and Rescue team, and other volunteers who all desperately wanted to return Jessica and Dion safely to their families.

“Such outcomes are always totally dependent on the cooperation and hard work from a wide range of dedicated people, largely volunteer searchers and others from a number of organisations including police whom I want to sincerely thank.”

The pair started on their tramp on May 9 and were reported missing by a friend on May 18.

Initial indications are that the pair became lost within the first days of their tramp due to fog.

They elected to stay put, however they ran out of food some time prior to being spotted by the helicopter.