Search and rescue teams are continuing to comb a section of Te Urewera National Park to find a woman and four children reported missing about 4pm yesterday. The children are aged from 4-9, with the group believed to have been visiting the area. Police launched a search and rescue operation after the group was reported overdue yesterday from a walk in the Otamatuna Ridge area, North East of Murupara. They had been dropped off just after one o’clock on Tuesday for the 1-2 hour walk.
Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Kevin Taylor says every effort was being made to locate them.
“At this stage, we have 10 search teams combing the area, supported by helicopters, with a focus on finding them as soon as possible. We’ve also got excellent support from local iwi and LandSAR volunteers with the search operation.”
Mr Taylor says it's understood the group was equipped with warm clothing, but it was unclear how much food they had given they had been on a short walk.
However, weather in the area was currently fine, still and reasonably warm, which was a positive.
“Our hope is that they have been able to shelter somewhere and keep warm until we can get to them.
With young children in the group, there are obvious concerns about their welfare, but we have experienced search teams working their way methodically through the search area and our hope is that they will be found safe and well.”
Mr Taylor said the search was ongoing throughout the day and would continue to be assessed as any new information came in.
Anyone with any sightings of the walking party are being asked to contact Bay of Plenty Police on 07 348-0099.