Stephanie Simpson: Family of woman missing in New Zealand at 'wits end'

Nellie Chapman
February 15, 2020

Police are searching for British tramper Stephanie Simpson after she failed to return from a hike in Mt Aspiring National Park.

Searchers made the discovery at about 13:40 New Zealand time (00:40 GMT) on Friday in the Pyke Creek area, New Zealand Police said.

Ms Simpson, 32, went hiking in the park last weekend and was reported missing on Monday after failing to arrive at an appointment, police said.

'The family are understandably grieving and they have asked media to respect their request for privacy during this hard time, ' he said.

He said in a statement the search had been extremely challenging because of the rugged terrain.

Kirkwood did not indicate there was anything suspicious about the death, which he said would be referred to a coroner.

"Police extend their condolences to Stephanie's family at this tragic time", he said.

British tourist stephanie simpson found dead
The body of 32-year-old Stephanie Simpson from Essex has been found in the Mount Aspiring National Park in New Zealand

It meant they were able to narrow down the considerably large search area.

Land Search and Rescue staff, two dog teams, Alpine Cliff Rescue staff from Fox Glacier and a canyon search and rescue team from Wanaka are helping with the search on Friday. She had told friends she planned to hike to Brewster Hut and then move on to Blue Pools.

Brother-in-law Sam Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald that Simpson's family in the United Kingdom were holding out hope she would be found alive.

"She's someone that's done triathlons, running races, marathons, she's really sporty and picks up new skills quickly", he said.

"The team said they're searching for somebody who's alive, but they also have asked a number of questions", Mr Hazelton said. "I feel robbed of the many years of friendship.at the same time I feel overly blessed to have had the time with her that I did".

Thousands of hikers visit New Zealand each year to explore its mountains and wildlife.

This story was first published on the New Zealand Herald and republished with permission.

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