Big search effort for lost men
Searchers continue to find items believed to belong to the two men lost in rugged bush near the Tongariro National Park.
The men, one of which has been named as Vincent Taurima from Palmerston North, ran into the bush on Saturday night after being pursued by police on the Desert Rd.
Police, army personnel and LandSAR volunteers resumed their search on Thursday – the fifth day of the rescue mission.
The men were last heard from on Sunday when they rang police to ask for help.
Senior sergeant Tony Jeurissen said more items were being found each day.
‘‘We’re continuing to find items of interest and we’re in the process of confirming they belong to the two men.’’
The parameters of the search had been narrowed down after finding the items, Jeurissen said.
The search area is now between the Desert Rd and the Tongariro River, near the Pillars of Hercules gorge, with Tree Trunk Gorge Rd to the south.
The area involves both the Kaimanawa Forest Park and the Tongariro National Park.
‘‘It’s not a huge area, but the scrub is thick, dense and uninviting,’’ Jeurissen said.
‘‘It is difficult for these searchers to get through. Because of the weather conditions, energy levels are sapped quite quickly.
‘‘Those are some of the difficulties the searchers themselves have found.’’
Two specially-trained search and rescue dogs are assisting. Poor weather conditions mean helicopters cannot assist.
Police confirm they’ve so far found two shoes in separate places, a drink bottle, the remains of a campfire and pieces of clothing, that are strongly believed to belong to the men.
‘‘It’s a significant operation of national interest and every available resource we have is being committed to this operation,’’ Jeurissen said.
The family of the men were out searching until late on Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday evening, police met with the mens’ whanau to provide an update.
Jeurissen said the police would like to thank Ngati Tuwharetoa.
‘‘This land we’re searching on is their sacred Whenua. They’ve been very supportive of the police operation and they’ve assisted us tremendously.’’
Searchers prepare to head off.