Stephanie Simpson: Body of missing British hiker found in New Zealand

February 14, 2020

Police in New Zealand have found the body of missing British hiker Stephanie Simpson.

Ms Simpson, from Essex, was last seen on Saturday 8 February, when it is believed fellow hikers spotted her walking along Brewster's Track - a popular route in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Friends last heard from the 32-year-old on Friday when she told them she was going to attempt a challenging four-hour hike in the park on the South Island over the weekend.

She said she wanted to visit the Blue Pools and then do the Brewster's Track to Brewster's Hut.

Ms Simpson had been living in New Zealand since October and was reported missing when she did not turn up to work on Monday morning.

West Coast Search and Rescue officer Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said: "Searchers located missing hiker Stephanie Simpson's body this afternoon.

"Earlier, searchers had found items in the area thought to belong to Stephanie, including a pack and a pair of boots."

Sergeant Kirkwood said police "extend their condolences to Stephanie's family at this tragic time", and thanked those involved in the search for their "considerable efforts".

Ms Simpson's parents had flown out to New Zealand to help with the search.

The search teams were using two dog teams as well as cliff and canyon rescue teams, police said.

"The family are understandably grieving and they have asked media to respect their request for privacy during this difficult time," Sergeant Kirkwood said.

"The search was extremely challenging at times, especially in consideration of the terrain, and the work of all involved is to be commended."

Ms Simpson was living in Wanaka because she wanted to explore the local area whilst working as a landscape gardener.

After she was reported missing her brother-in-law Sam Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald she was an experienced hiker and very fit, having competed in triathlons and marathons.

"She's an extremely determined, strong-willed person," Mr Hazelton said.

The park is known for its rugged remoteness, mountains and its striking river valleys. It is popular with both hikers and mountain climbers.

The death will be referred to the coroner.

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