Friends of British tramper found dead pay tribute online

Stephanie Simpson

Enlarge Image Stephanie Simpson Facebook

A British woman who vanished on a New Zealand hiking trip was found dead in a canyon on Friday, according to new reports.

Earlier, searchers found items thought to be Ms Simpson's, including a backpack and boots.

Police on Friday said in a statement they had narrowed the search to the Pyke Creek area, which consists of "extremely challenging" terrain.

Kirkwood did not indicate there was anything suspicious about the death, which he said would be referred to a coroner.

Simpson, from Essex, was reported missing around 8.45am on Monday when she failed to keep an appointment.

It was not clear if Simpson's hike at the Mount Aspiring National Park, home of one of New Zealand's highest peaks, was affected by the rain.

Police extended their condolences to her family at this tragic time, he said.

Sergeant Mark Kirkwood says they pulled out technology they don't usually use to help the search, including the RECCO device that can help track some brands of hiking clothes mostly made in Europe.

Her family arrived to the search area about the same time her body was found, he said.

Mount Aspiring national park
Mount Aspiring national park in New Zealand where Simpson was found dead. De Agostini via Getty Images

Brother-in-law Sam Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald that Simpson's family in the United Kingdom were holding out hope she would be found alive.

The 32-year-old was hiking to the Blue Pools, near Makaroa, when she didn't return as expected last Saturday.

He said: "She's someone that's done triathlons, running races, marathons, she's really sporty and picks up new skills quickly".

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

The last time the family heard from Simpson was when she messaged a family WhatsApp group on Thursday morning that she was going tramping for the weekend.

Thousands of hikers visit New Zealand each year to explore its mountains and wildlife.

"She has a real interest in exploring in the outdoors in the environment, she loves new challenges and new adventures".

The park is known for its rugged remoteness, mountains and its striking river valleys.

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