The three people believed to be aboard the yacht Munetra,
missing near Bluff, have been identified by Invercargill
The 7.5 metre yacht was last heard from on April 16 when it
left Bluff headed for Preservation Inlet at the southwest of
the South Island.
Munetra was reported missing to police last Thursday.
Two of the three people on board are German citizens who were
visiting New Zealand on a gap year after finishing school.
They are Lea Tietz and Veronika Steudler, both aged 19, from
the district of Gorlitz in Germany.
The skipper of the yacht is also a German, who has been
living in New Zealand for about four years and has been
working on a dairy farm in Central Southland. He is Andre
Kinzler aged 33.
Police say the families of Ms Tietz and Ms Steudler have been
informed of the situation but police working through the
German Embassy have not yet been able to make contact with Mr
Police say they are now working on a missing persons' inquiry
in relation to the disappearance of the yacht.
Although they have gathered a lot of good information about
the movements of the trio prior to the boat leaving Bluff on
16 April, they are still working to further establish the
"We are committed to doing our best for the families of
Lea, Veronika and Andre to ensure that we provide them with the
best possible information about the events leading up to the
trio leaving Bluff," said Southland Area Commander Inspector
Police say they had received no information that suggested
any foul play.
Ms Tietz and Ms Steudler had known each other from Germany
and had been travelling in New Zealand since September last
year, police said.
They had been travelling intermittently together over that
time and were both due to go home next month.
Ms Tietz met Mr Kinzler on Stewart Island around a month ago,
and indications were that the trip had been planned since
Police said Mr Kinzler's sailing experience was also a focus
of their inquiries.
"We know that he had purchased the boat within the past 12
months but the information we've gathered to date suggests
that his previous sailing experience may have been limited,"
Inspector Todd said.
Since Thursday a large search and rescue team, including an
Air Force Orion, had been scouring the coast of the southern
South Island and around Stewart and the Muttonbird Islands,
for any sign of the vessel.
The search has included coastline searches by a plane and two
helicopters, with an Airforce Orion searching approximately
80,000 square kilometres of ocean. The search area was
effectively the width of the South Island to a point 150km
south of Stewart Island.
The search is now in a limited continuous search phase, which
meant the team would continue to regularly receive and
evaluate the latest information supplied from the Rescue
Coordination Centre about tidal patterns, current movements
and debris already located, to identify potential actions or
directions for future searches.
Searchers had also asked local fishermen and boaties
operating in the vicinity of the search area to report any
new and relevant information to them.