Woman found barefoot in Te Urewera after six days missing
19 July 2017
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A missing woman has been found barefoot but uninjured after six days in the bush - sparking praise for search and rescue teams.
Police had "grave concerns" for the welfare of 49-year-old Suzanne Holmes when her car was found with the doors unlocked and keys in the ignition last Wednesday.
She had gone missing in dense bush near Lions Hut, about 80km east of Rotorua in the northern part of Te Urewera National Park.
Rotorua police operations support manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said the big concern was whether she would have the right equipment on her for the cold weather that came through over Thursday.
"She had gone into the bush to get away from things," he said.
"Some people go to Bali and sit on the beach, some people walk up mountains and others go bush."
According to MetService, temperatures in Rotorua plummeted as low as -2C over the weekend, with snow in the wider region.
Volunteer teams from Rotorua, Tauranga and Whakatane joined police land search and rescue combing the dense bush in the search for Ms Holmes.
The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter also helped, conducting two aerial searches.
Mr Taylor said searchers had a bit of a "round table" meeting on Monday to work out a new plan.
She was found on Tuesday, barefoot but uninjured.
"She responded to a voice appeal and searchers went to her," Mr Taylor said.
"Her feet were a bit cut up, she probably couldn't have walked back out."
Ms Holmes was winched on to the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter and flown to Whakatane Hospital in a comfortable condition.
"She was actually reasonably experienced in the bush," Mr Taylor said.
"She wasn't cold or wet, but she was taken for a check up due to the environment she'd experienced."
Mr Taylor said the search and rescue teams had done "an outstanding job at short notice".