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Stephanie Simpson: British backpacker found dead after going missing on New Zealand hike | UK | News

Stephanie Simpson’s body has been discovered in Mount Aspiring National Park, Sergeant Mark Kirkwood of West Coast Search and Rescue said. She was reported missing on Monday after she did not turn up to her job as a gardener in the Wanaka area, where she had been living.

Ms Simpson, 32, from Basildon in Essex, had reportedly told friends she planned to go hiking in the national park at the weekend.

Her body was found on Friday at around 1.40pm in the Pyke Creek area.

In a statement, Sergeant Kirkwood said that police extended their condolences to Ms Simpson’s family “at this tragic time”.

He said: “The family are understandably grieving and they have asked media to respect their request for privacy during this difficult time.

“Police would also like to thank everyone involved in the search since it began on Monday for their considerable efforts to locate Stephanie.

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

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

They had been scouring the area using thermal-imaging drones, helicopters, search and rescue teams on the ground and dogs.

It comes after Ms Simpson’s brother-in-law Sam Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald that her family were “hoping upon hope” that she will be found.

He said: “The family are just at their wits’ end, they’re trying really hard to cope.”

He added that Ms Simpson was extremely fit.

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

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

The park on the country’s South Island is described by the Department of Conservation as a “wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys”.

It added: “It is a walker’s paradise and a must for mountaineers.”

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