Backpacker found dead after going missing in rugged bushland

Searchers have found the body of British hiker Stephanie Simpson almost a week after she went hiking in a New Zealand national park.

Her body was found in the Pyke Creek area of Mount Aspiring National Park, on the country’s South Island, near where her backpack and boots were retrieved earlier, Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said. 

He said in a statement the search had been extremely challenging because of the rugged terrain.

Sgt Kirkwood did not indicate there was anything suspicious about the death, which he said would be referred to a coroner.

Stephanie Simpson's body was found in a New Zealand national park almost a week after she went missing. Source: Facebook

Ms Simpson, 32, went hiking in the park last weekend and was reported missing on Monday.

Her family had been desperate for any information. 

Brother-in-law Sam Hazelton had earlier told the New Zealand Herald Ms Simpson was an experienced hiker and very fit, having competed in triathlons and running races.

“She’s an extremely determined, strong-willed person,” Mr Hazelton said.

Ms Simpson had moved to Wanaka, New Zealand in November last year, according to her Facebook account, she is originally from Essex in the UK.

Police earlier on Friday had narrowed the search to the Pyke Creek area and were using two dog teams as well as cliff and canyon rescue teams.

Mount Aspiring National Park is known for its rugged remoteness, its mountains and its striking river valleys. It is popular with both hikers and mountain climbers.

Previously, Mr Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald the “not knowing” was the “hardest thing”.

A missing poster at Mount Aspiring National Park. Searchers found the 32-year-old's body. Source: Newshub via AP

The news outlet also reported Ms Simpson’s parents flew from the UK to New Zealand to assist with the search.

New Zealand Police have extended their condolences to the family in a statement, according to The Evening Standard.

“Police would also like to thank everyone involved in the search since it began on Monday for their considerable efforts to locate Stephanie,” the statement reportedly says.

“The search was extremely challenging at times, especially in consideration of the terrain, and the work of all involved is to be commended.”

– with AAP

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