4 Jan 2015

Police call off search for climbers

9:13 pm on 4 January 2015

Police have decided to suspend the search for three missing climbers on Aoraki Mt Cook.

Aoraki/Mt Cook.

The three climbers have been missing on Aoraki Mt Cook since Monday. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Australian Michael Bishop, 53, and Germans Johann and Raphael Viellehner, 27 and 58, have not been seen since early Monday morning when they set out for a day-long climb.

They were only wearing light climbing gear when weather conditions quickly deteriorated.

Police said the men's families were upset, having been told the search had been suspended and that the men's bodies may never be recovered.

Senior Constable Brent Swanson said police met with rescue teams this morning and decided to suspend the search indefinitely.

"If they were to be located, we would have located them by now. Obviously we just can't keep searching and searching forever," he said.

"We need to make a decision at some stage. We've spoken to the families and they're aware of the situation and understand the circumstances."

Other climbers and pilots in the area were still being urged to report anything of interest in the search area.