Police now hold "grave concerns" for a missing tramper who
has not been heard from since Sunday.
Search teams, a rescue helicopter and cavers will tomorrow
continue the hunt for a Palmerston North tramper Alastair
More than 20 searchers were combing the Kahurangi National
Park on foot today, looking for the 54-year-old.
Police said Mr Levy left Nelson on Saturday morning and
reached the summit of the 1875m Mt Owen on Sunday, where he
sent a text message that he had reached the summit.
The Palmerston North man was due to pick up his bike from a
cafe in Kohatu and then cycle back to his car at the start of
the track at Courthouse Flat, but he never made it.
He had been described as an experienced tramper, but he had
no emergency locator beacon on him.
Search coordinator Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons said the team was
coming in tonight after a fruitless search.
Tomorrow a local rescue helicopter would again join the
teams, after poor weather grounded it today.
Rough weather over the last few days had made the hunt
difficult and police now had "grave concerns" for Mr Levi's
safety, Mr Fitzsimons said.
The area is riddled with caves, with New Zealand's longest
cave system the Bulmer Cavern running 66km through Mt Owen,
and its jagged marble terrain and dense bush make the search
"The Bulmer Caves are one of the most extensive in the world
and there is a group of about 13 cavers who had organised
another exploratory trip tomorrow.
"They're aware of what we've been doing and our situation and
they'll be keeping an eye out for him."
Mr Fitzsimons said the rescue volunteers had given up their
Christmas Day and Boxing Day to look for Mr Levi.
"They do a great job and they're very skilled, dedicated
Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter crewman Hamish Pirie was
part of a team which flew over the mountain from 11pm on
He said it was "extremely rugged" terrain they were looking
"It's marble, it's very broken ... there are deep crevasses,
lots of holes into caves, lots of bluffs and drop-offs and
extremely dense bush and steep terrain. The upper part is
- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ