Confusion sparks unnecessary search

A search for a man thought to be missing in the Mt Aspiring National Park at the weekend was called off after several hours when it was discovered the climber was not overdue from his expedition after all.

LandSAR Wanaka members swung into action about noon on Saturday after receiving a report a man had not returned from a trip into the national park on Thursday as expected.

The man's partner, who was overseas, had raised the alarm when she did not receive a text message from him, LandSAR committee member Roy Bailey said.

However, contradictory information had been provided about the man's return dates and intended route.

''It was all a bit confusing and disjointed,'' Mr Bailey said.

Three LandSAR volunteers spent more than an hour in a helicopter looking for the man, an experienced New Zealand climber who did not live in the Wanaka area. Five other crew members formed an incident management team based at the Wanaka Police Station.

Searchers tracked down another climber who had left an entry in the log book at French Ridge Hut, where the allegedly missing man had also made an entry.

The climber said he had met the man in the park and was told he planned to follow a different route to the one searchers had understood he would be taking, and would not be due out until yesterday evening.

A message had been left on the climber's mobile phone and vehicle to contact police on his return, Mr Bailey said.

He reminded people going into the mountains to leave a clear ''due out'' date with a reliable person, preferably someone in New Zealand.

-lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz