'Unbelievable': Hiker found alive two weeks after going missing in forest

A Hawaii woman has been found alive in a forest on Maui island after going missing more than two weeks ago.

Amanda Eller was found injured in the Makawao Forest Reserve, the Maui News reported.

Family spokeswoman Sarah Haynes confirmed she spoke with Ms Eller's father, John. Eller was airlifted to safety.

"I was crying tears of joy," Ms Eller's mother Julia said.

"I never gave up hope for a minute. I knew that we would find her."

The physical therapist from the Maui town of Haiku went missing on May 8.

Her white Toyota RAV4 was found in the forest car park with her phone and wallet inside.

Hawaii woman Amanda Eller pictured with her rescuers – Javier Cantellops, Troy Helmer and Chris Berquist. Source: Getty Images

Hundreds of volunteers have searched for her since. Ms Eller's parents had offered a AU$14,436 reward to encourage people to find her.

Javier Cantellops said he was searching for Ms Eller from a helicopter along with Chris Berquist and Troy Helmers when they spotted her on Friday about 3:45pm (local time).

She was near the Kailua reservoir, according to Maui Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Gregg Okamoto and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Eating fruit and moths to survive

Mr Cantellops told the newspaper she was in the bed of a creek with waterfalls on either side.

He told CNN he saw Ms Eller waving her hands at the helicopter.

"It was unbelievable, dude," Mr Cantellops said.

"Seeing her for the first time in a long time was just unbelievable. It was nothing short of elation."

The hiker, from Haiku, was found alive in the Makawao Forest Reserve. Source: KHON2 News via Javier Cantellops

Ms Eller was in an area with thick vegetation, he said.

"That vegetation is so thick, it's a miracle that we saw her," Mr Cantellops told CNN.

The Maui Fire Department brought Eller to a hospital for evaluation, Lt Okamoto said in a statement.

Her mother told the Maui News the hiker survived by staying near a water source, and eating wild raspberries and strawberry guavas.

She even ate a couple of moths, Julia said.

Her daughter tried to catch some crawfish, but she was "not very successful", she said.

"She lost quite a bit of weight, as you can imagine, being lost for that amount of time," Julia said.

"But she was able to survive it. She had the right skills and did the right things to buy time so that we had a chance to find her."

Ms Eller's feet and legs took on a gruesome appearance during her time lost in the thick vegetation. Source: Javier Cantellops

Ms Eller suffered a leg fracture, abrasions on her ankles and a severe sunburn, but Julia told the Maui News her daughter's spirits were good.

"And all of those things are treatable," the mother said.

A photo was posted to a Facebook page tracking the search, showing a smiling Ms Eller with what appeared to be injuries to her face and dirt on her clothing.

The photo shows Ms Eller surrounded by Mr Cantellops, Mr Berquist and Mr Helmers.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he was grateful for the efforts of family, friends, volunteers and first responders.

"This search and rescue was truly a community collaboration of Maui County first responders, family, friends and community volunteers," Mayor Victorino said in a statement.

"I extend my deepest appreciation for everyone involved in searching for and locating Amanda. Your work, determination and sacrifice has helped return her to her loving family. God bless them all."

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