Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds were rescued after they became lost and injured in the Kahurangi National Park. Photo: Supplied.

$80k spent on search for missing trampers


More than $80,000 was spent on the search and rescue operation to find missing trampers Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor, who became lost in Kahurangi National Park in May.

The pair, both 23, left from Anatori into Kahurangi National Park on May 9, becoming lost and injured.

A huge search and rescue effort began on May 19, and the two trampers were found on May 27 after 19 days in the bush.

They were taken to hospital by an Air Force NH90 helicopter to be treated for minor injuries.

The pair began their tramp during Alert Level 3 lockdown, which banned overnight tramps. Before the pair went missing, they were last seen by a fellow camper at Anatori camp.

They told the camper that they only had enough food for four to six days in the bush but planned to fast and ration so they could spend longer in the national park.

Police lead the search, helped by Land SAR, the Defence Force, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and several other smaller groups and volunteers.

Documents obtained by the Nelson Weekly via the Official Information Act reveal the climbing cost of the operation.

Acting National Manager of Response and Operations for the New Zealand Police, Inspector Nicholas Brown, says that police costs in the period 22 May – 15 June add up to $21,508.

This included around $2,480 spent on accommodation. The biggest chunk of the bill, however, was $17,387 for helicopter rental costs.

Inspector Brown noted that the total cost of the operation is likely to climb.

It has also been revealed that the bill for the New Zealand Defence force was $62,156.

A similar search and rescue operation was undertaken in Kahurangi National Park early in June had an entirely different outcome.

A Wellington man who became injured set off a personal locator beacon and was being treated in Nelson Hospital within two hours.

Personal locator beacons can be hired for $30 a day, from the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter trust, or various other outlets, such as Hunting and Fishing in Richmond.