Stacy Squires / Stuff
An RNZAF helicopter drops off researchers near Mount Aicken in search of English trampeur Elizabeth Thomson on Mount Aicken in 2006.
A 37-year-old woman who was separated from her hiking partner was found dead in Arthur’s Pass National Park over the weekend.
The woman was reported missing around 7:30 p.m. Saturday after failing to return from a day’s hike, a police spokesperson said.
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The woman had ridden the Mt Aicken Track from the Devils Punchbowl Track parking lot on State Highway 73 with a friend, but the couple broke up.
The woman did not return to the parking lot as planned, the spokesperson said.
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A search and rescue operation has been launched.
Search and Rescue Police (SAR), Alpine Cliff Rescue, Oxford Search and Rescue, NZ LandSAR search dogs and a helicopter were all involved.
Teams recovered the woman’s body around 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Police continue to investigate the death on behalf of the coroner,” the police spokeswoman said.
According to the Arthur’s Pass NZ website, those attempting the Mount Aicken Trail “must have good navigation skills.”
He describes the trail as a “steep climb” with alpine peaks and great views and is estimated to take around six to eight hours round trip.
The route features ‘large hidden cliffs’, unmarked sections, creeks and streams off the mountain, many of which pass through very large waterfalls or contain ‘vast loose rocks’.
The website also features a series of warnings for would-be hikers due to “lingering issues, including fatalities on this route.”
He states that the trail is a ‘day walk’ and those entering the road should allow ‘sufficient daylight hours’ and not attempt it if there is ‘fog / blanket’ cloudy over the mountain â.
He recommends letting someone know about your plans, bringing enough supplies, including a cell phone, and not trying it out on your own.
In 2006, English trampeuse Elizabeth Thomson, who was 55, did not return to Arthur’s Pass hostel after a day of vagrancy. His backpack, water bottle and car keys were later found at the edge of a bush on Mount Aicken.
Researchers found Thomson’s body about four days later in the Grahams Stream area, about 2 kilometers from where his pack was found.
Police said it looked like Thomson had fallen 20 to 30 meters over a cliff, then fell further “into a very, very steep ravine before coming to rest under trees.” She seemed to have died instantly.