Missing tramper mystery ends with discovery of body

A body found at the bottom of a steep bank in the upper Mikonui River area on the West Coast is believed to be that of missing Christchurch tramper Rex Taylor.

A helicopter and two police search and rescue members were today sent into the rugged Kaka Gorge area, inland from Ross, to retrieve the body.

West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning said while they could not say for sure who it was, no one else was missing in the area.

A Hokitika helicopter pilot alerted police after a fly-over of the area on Saturday. After first spotting a tent fly, he turned around and then saw the body down a bank.

Mr Canning said it appeared from the location of the body that he had fallen down the bank.

Mr Taylor's family was told of the discovery.

"We will not be able to confirm whether the body is Mr Taylor's until it has been officially identified and it will not be until later this afternoon that the recovery operation will be completed," Mr Canning said.

Mr Taylor, 50, a fit and experienced tramper, was last seen on October 16, when he parked his car at the end of the Totara Valley Road, intending to tramp to the Explorer Hut at the headwaters of the adjoining Mikonui River.

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

His family reported him missing on November 6. Police search and rescue teams scoured the area but failed to find him.

The search was suspended after just over a week but last week a team of four search and rescue volunteers spent the night in the hills behind Ross in a last-ditch effort to find him.

Mr Taylor had a history of heading into the bush alone.

By Viv Logie of the Greymouth Star

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