At about 10.30 am 3 May 2011 Murupara Police were notified of a missing hunter in Te Urewera National Park, east of Murupara.
The missing hunter was with two other men at the Hanamahihi Hut, in the Whakatane River. They had flown into the area on Thursday to go hunting and were due to be uplifted at 10 am on 3 May.
The missing man had gone for a day hunt at 7.00 am on Monday and had failed to return that evening. The next morning others members of the group went looking for him and fired a number of shots to attract his attention and indicate they were looking for him.
The missing man was a 26 year old Australian from Victoria. His two companions were aged 49 and 51, and from Northland.
Weather overnight in the area Monday - Tuesday was poor with torrential rain at times.
In the first instance, while a search operations base was being established at Murupara, Police attempted to fly into the area to conduct an aerial reconnaissance.
This was hampered by very bad weather encountered between Rotorua and Murupara, and then low cloud, poor visibility, and at times driving rain, in Te Urewera National Park.
Eventually, after being forced to take a circuitous route into the Whakatane River, the helicopter reached the hut at around 2.30 pm.
There they located the missing person who had made his way back to the hut at around midday.
He had suffered a very bad fall late on Monday afternoon, sliding some 50 metres down a bluff before managing to arrest his fall by grabbing a tree at the bottom of the slope. This action prevented him falling over an estimated 20 metre cliff onto rocks in a creek bed. This would almost certainly have proven fatal.
It took the hunter the remainder of the day, and several hours the next morning, to climb back up from where he had fallen, and then to make his way back to the hut.
As a result of the fall he suffered severe bruising down one side of his abdomen and bruises and grazes over his back, thigh, arms, and hands. He is also believed to have at least one fractured rib.
The man and another of the group [who had remained at the hut] were airlifted to Ruatahuna where they were picked up the Murupara Police. Conditions were such that the helicopter had to return to Rotorua via Whakatane, and at one point needed to land and wait for the weather to improve.
This is another case of in spite of taking all due precautions, doing all the right things, and being well prepared, sometimes things can and do go wrong for those going into the outdoors.