Searchers find body of hunter

Police have recovered the body of the West Coast hunter who went missing on the north bank of the Haast River on Wednesday morning.

The body of Leon Allan Climo (32), a truck driver, of Hokitika, was found at 9am yesterday, down river of the State Highway 6 Haast bridge and 11km downstream from where searchers believe he entered the Haast River.

Constable Robin Manera, of Haast, said Mr Climo was hunting with a friend on Tuesday evening.

The pair were travelling up the Haast river by jet-boat and Mr Climo was dropped off on the north bank.

His hunting companion continued up river and landed the jet-boat to stalk deer in a different area.

Const Manera said river levels dropped and the jet-boat became stranded overnight. The driver managed to refloat the boat with help from another jet-boat, but Mr Climo was not at the spot where he was dropped off.

On Wednesday, police recovered Mr Climo's ‘‘heavy clothing'', which indicated he had entered the river to try to swim across to the south bank, Mr Manera said.

A search team of Haast volunteers, a four-man specialist kayak team from Wanaka Search and Rescue and a helicopter and fixed wing aircraft searched in vain for Mr Climo on Wednesday.

More SAR police personnel were called from Franz Josef and a helicopter search was conducted along the beaches and up the Haast River, Const Manera said.

Mr Climo's body was found in a pool of clear water in a calm channel of the Haast River. Mr Climo had a de-facto partner, but it was not known whether the pair had any children, Const Manera said.

A postmortem will be carried out.

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