8 May 2011

Missing police officer found safe and well

2:41 pm on 8 May 2011

A police officer reported missing after an overnight tramp was unaware a major search effort was underway to find him.

Experienced search and rescue officer Sergeant Andy Brooke was winched out by helicopter from the Tararua Ranges on Saturday afternoon.

At least five teams were looking for the 50-year-old near the Otaki Forks in Horowhenua.

Sergeant Brooke had entered the area on Thursday and was due to return to his vehicle, parked at Otaki Forks, at about 9pm on Friday.

He was laying a trail for a Search and Rescue exercise and police said he was well equipped with food and appropriate clothing.

The officer had equipment with him including a 'Spot-Me' device and sent updates about his location and status, but they weren't received.

He set off a personal locator beacon when he reached a hut and saw a book entry mentioning that a search party was trying to find him.

A police spokesperson says rescuers were able to respond to the emergency beacon.

Search teams had scoured an area near the Waitewaewae Hut in Tararua Forest Park and a route the missing tramper had planned to take, while five more teams were on standby.

Police say it appears the route he chose took longer than was thought.