Bedroll found in search for missing tramper

Chunks of a bedroll that may have belonged to the Christchurch tramper missing for more than two weeks have been found in dense bush on the West Coast.

Rex Leslie Taylor, 50, has not been seen since October 16.

West Coast search and rescue crews have been scouring the bush, river and beach in the Totara Valley area, near Mikonui River, since Tuesday, when his family reported him missing. The Mikonui catchment adjoins the Totara.

Search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Sean Judd said 21 fresh searchers were sent into the hills this morning.

The alpine cliff rescue team, a fresh dog team from Christchurch along with two search and rescue teams from Westport and South Westland and one from Hokitika were deployed about 8am.

Mr Judd said ground searchers found pieces of a bedroll that may have been chipped off in the thick bush, as well as pieces of rubber that experienced hunters used to light fires.

However, they could not say for sure whether the items belonged to Mr Taylor.

Mr Judd would not be drawn on what might have happened to the missing man.

"We have a list of scenarios. He may have slipped down a steep cliff, it could be medical or he may have been swept away in a river; we just don't know.

"Mr Taylor could have also tramped elsewhere, although we have checked huts higher up and there was nothing to suggest that he had been there. He is a stickler for putting entries in the hut log books and there has been nothing documented in other huts," Mr Judd said.

"We will continue searching for now and will review the situation as we go."

He believed the searchers were in the right place, but the area was large, rugged and steep.

"We know we cannot get to a lot of places and cannot say 100 per cent where he might or might not be, but we are doing our best."

On October 16, Mr Taylor parked his car at the end of the Totara Valley Road, intending to tramp to the Explorer Hut at the headwaters of the Mikonui River.

He left a note in the intentions log book at the Explorer Hut on October 23 saying he expected to be out two days later.

- By Viv Logie of the Greymouth Star

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