16 Aug 2017

French skiier missing near Wanaka found

6:05 pm on 16 August 2017

French skier Tom Garatadour, who was missing in mountains west of Lake Wanaka, has been found safe and uninjured.

Wanaka Police search and rescue coordinator Sergeant Aaron Nicholson said the 18-year-old had last been seen mid-morning on Monday when he left his car at the West Wanaka Station carpark.

Four teams of police and search and rescue volunteers had been searching for the 18-year-old in the mountainous terrain for the past day.

"With the weather deteriorating rapidly and more snow expected tonight, it could well have been a different outcome," Mr Nicholson said.

He said a searching helicopter found ski touring tracks above the Minaret Burn and Mr Garatadour was found walking back to his car.

The skier, from Lyon, was travelling by himself and had intended to climb through the steep bushclad lower slopes to 2399m Mt Alta and ski the upper slopes.

The snow was down to about 1400m and there were heavy snowfalls over the weekend.

Mr Nicholson said given the terrain, the potential avalanche risk and the overnight temperatures, police had been concerned for his safety.

"This is a good outcome, but we would want to emphasise that if you're going into the back country we would strongly urge you to carry a personal locator beacon," Mr Nicholson said.