16 Aug 2017

Army joins search for missing men

2:23 pm on 16 August 2017

The Army has joined the search for two men lost in rugged bush in Tongariro National Park.

Mist rises in an area near Tree Trunk Gorge Rd - on the edge of Tongariro National Park and Kaimanawa Forest Park - in December 2008.

Mist rises in an area near Tree Trunk Gorge Rd on the edge of Tongariro National Park and Kaimanawa Forest Park. Photo: Flickr / Brian Stocks / CC BY-ND 2.0

The men fled police in a stolen car on Saturday afternoon before abandoning it on a track off the Desert Road. One later called 111 to ask for help.

Police said the men were not prepared to be out in the bush and they were likely to be in a critical condition.

The men's clothing and shoes were found on Monday afternoon, which was being treated as a possible sign of euphoria or delirium associated with hypothermia.

The clothing helped the police to concentrate the search to an area close to the Pillars of Hercules on the fringes of the Kaimanawa Forest.

Bay of Plenty Police Operations Manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said that as time passes hopes of finding the missing men are fading.

A helicopter was unable to join the search today due to weather.

About 40 searchers from Tauranga, Taihape and Whanganui were expected to be joined by more police and volunteers today.

The men's car was abandoned on Tree Trunk Gorge Rd, on the edge of the national park, and the men had entered the bush from there.