Stephanie Simpson: New Zealand police find body of missing woman

Stephanie Simpson is thought to have gone missing while hiking in a New Zealand national park. …

Stephanie Simpson Image copyright Facebook/Stephanie Simpson
Image caption Stephanie Simpson is thought to have gone for a hike in Mount Aspiring National Park

Police looking for a British woman missing in New Zealand have said they have found her body.

Stephanie Simpson, 32, from Essex, is thought to have gone on a hike last weekend in Mount Aspiring National Park in the country’s South Island.

Searchers made the discovery at about 13:40 New Zealand time (00:40 GMT) on Friday in the Pyke Creek area, New Zealand Police said.

They had earlier found items they believed had belonged to her.

Ms Simpson, from the Basildon area, was reported missing on Monday, when a search began.

According to her Facebook account, she had been living in the Wanaka area since November and was working as a landscaper.

A thermal-imaging drone, dog teams, helicopter and search teams failed to find any sign of her on Thursday and police in New Zealand had said the search was difficult due to the size and terrain of the area.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The wilderness of Mount Aspiring National Park attracts a range of outdoor enthusiasts

The search continued on Friday with more teams, who focussed on the Pyke area of the park.

Before search teams discovered her body, they found a «pack» and a pair of boots which were thought to be hers, police said.

Sgt Mark Kirkwood, from West Coast Search and Rescue, said police wanted to thank all those involved in the search for their «considerable efforts».

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

«Police extend their condolences to Stephanie’s family at this tragic time.»

The death will be referred to the coroner.

People posting on a crowdfunding page set up by a friend to support the LANDSAR rescue team have been talking about the loss.

One, who wished to remain anonymous, thanked those who found her and said she was «a bright light amongst many and will be sadly missed [by] those who knew her».

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