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Briton goes missing in New Zealand

22 March 2011 10:52

Search and rescue helicopters have been looking for Mr Esbester

Search and rescue helicopters have been looking for Mr Esbester

Police in New Zealand have launched a wide-reaching search and rescue mission after a British man disappeared while walking in the country's Kahurangi National Park.

The movements of James Esbester, from Waterlooville, Hampshire, have been traced to an accommodation hut in the park near Nelson on the country's South Island where he wrote his intentions to scale Mount Luna in a log book on Thursday.

His note and equipment was discovered at Stone Hut by a tramping party on Saturday. The group walked on and notified police at 10pm.

Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons, of Nelson Police, said a search and rescue operation immediately got under way following news of Mr Esbester's disappearance and a rescue helicopter with night vision equipment was sent into the area.

Mr Fitzsimons said searchers had found indications that Mr Esbester might have climbed to the summit of Mt Luna and then deviated from his planned descent by taking the ridge to Biggs Tops.

He said: "We're currently re-visiting parts of Mt Luna and also exploring the bush on the south edges. We're also looking into the north-west and south-west edges of Biggs Topps. That's rather gnarly country."