Further helicopter searches are expected today for a
22-year-old woman swept away on Monday while crossing a stream
on the Milford Track.
Grave fears are held for the woman, after searchers failed to
find her yesterday.
The woman, whose nationality was unconfirmed, had been
walking the track with her Australian partner when she was
caught in the Pompolona Creek about 3pm on Monday and was
swept into the Clinton River, Sub-area Commander Senior
Sergeant Cynthia Farley said.
Searches by helicopter yesterday morning and afternoon found
no sign of her.
The couple had spent time in Queenstown before ''freedom
walking'' the track. The woman's male companion activated an
emergency beacon which was picked up by the National Rescue
Co-ordination Centre about 6pm.
Maritime New Zealand senior communications and media adviser
Steve Rendle said the beacon was activated near the Mintaro
Hut, but bad weather prevented a helicopter accessing the
area on Monday night. The hut is at the head of the Clinton
Valley, about 21.5km from Glade Wharf on Lake Te Anau.
Snr Sgt Farley said a Southern Lakes Helicopter and observer
search crew reached the area about 7.30am yesterday,
searching the Clinton River and surrounds.
Pompolona Creek was high after recent rain and weather
conditions were poor. Rain continued yesterday afternoon and
MetService issued a severe weather warning for the area.
Between 170mm and 210mm of rain was expected this morning,
with ''significant spillover rain'' about the headwaters of
Otago lakes and rivers.
''People are advised that driving conditions may be
hazardous, rivers and streams may rise rapidly, surface
flooding and slips are possible.''
Snr Sgt Farley said police were continuing to search by air,
since conditions meant a foot search was ''not feasible''.
Police were working with Department of Conservation staff and
LandSAR volunteers. The male tramper was helping with the
search effort and was being supported by Victim Support.
The Milford Track Great Walk is closed to guided walkers from
May 1 to October 27 but is open to independent trampers with
''Walkers are advised that alpine skills are essential,'' Snr
Sgt Farley said.