Fears for British hiker missing for five days in New Zealand mountains

Hopes of finding a British hiker alive after he went missing in New Zealand five days ago are dwindling as rescuers battle severe weather on a mountain range where he was last seen.

Darren Myers, 49, failed to return from a hike in the Tararua ranges in the North Island at noon on Saturday. The Tararuas are a rugged destination popular with hikers from Wellington.

Myers is a UK citizen but lives in the Wellington suburb of Karori, according to police.

Twelve teams made up of 50 police, search and rescue, and defence force staff have been deployed to search for Myers by land and air.

In a statement, police said the search would continue on Wednesday “in a limited capacity due to poor weather conditions”.

“The conditions will continue to be assessed throughout the day, and any opportunity to increase the search will be considered,” the statement said. “An aerial search using a helicopter and infrared technology will be conducted if weather allows.”

The search area centres on Arete Bivvy and Tarn Ridge Hut on Mount Holdsworth, and police said concerns for Myers “remain high” due to poor weather conditions since he went missing. Lower than normal temperatures have been felt in the region, and half a metre of snow fell over the weekend.

Myers’ wife, Kim Shaw, last heard from her husband by text last Thursday. She told domestic media she remained hopeful.

“I have been impressed and made to feel at ease by SAR (search and rescue) personnel,” Shaw told Stuff. “We are staying positive and not giving up hope.”

New Zealand forecaster MetService is predicting thunderstorms, snow, gale-force winds and potentially tornadoes for parts of the North Island on Wednesday, severely hampering the search for Myers.

The British High Commission in Wellington said it was working with the family and the New Zealand police in relation to reports of a missing British national.