Woman, kids lost in bush found

A woman and four children missing in bush in Te Urewera have been found safe and well.

Police confirmed all members in the group had been located.

Authorities made the announcement just after 4pm - almost 48 hours after they had entered the bush.

Police launched an extensive search and rescue operation after the group were reported overdue yesterday from a walk in the Otamatuna Ridge area, north east of Murapara.

They had been dropped off at the Otamatuna Track on Tuesday afternoon for a two hour walk.

The woman and children - aged between 4 and 9 years old - were found about 3.45pm today.

They were reported missing about 4pm yesterday after spending a night in the bush.

"[The group] are in the process of being winched out by helicopter, after which they will be assessed.''

Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Kevin Taylor said: "While we were fully prepared to keep searching through the night if needed, all are relieved and thankful that the group won't be having to endure a third cold night in the bush.''

Taylor thanked police officers and LandSAR volunteers who had worked tirelessly in the search.

"We are hugely relieved that the group have been found safe and that we are able to return them to their family.''

Police also acknowledged the help and support of the people of Tuhoe, as well as help from the NZ Defence Force.

The group spent a night in the wilderness before the alarm was raised at 4pm the next day.

The woman who took the children into the bush is from the area.

Helicopters and searchers had been scouring a number of tracks in the dense and difficult terrain since yesterday evening.

Today searchers focused on a number of tracks around Lions Hut, most of which involved steep climbs up challenging terrain.

Te Urewera contains the largest forested wilderness remaining in the North Island.

It is famous for its lakes and forests, its remote and rugged terrain and popular walk around Lake Waikaremoana.

The area is a favourite with hikers, kayakers, hunters and fly-fishing enthusiasts.

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