Wellington tramper Darren Myers died in a fall - police

From left: Darren Myers' brother-in-law Duncan Styles, Murray Johnson from LandSAR, and Sergeant Tony Matheson. - Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Police say missing tramper Darren Myers, who was found dead this morning, died in a fall near a waterfall in the area that was being searched.

Mr Myers, 49, failed to return from the Northern Crossing on 1 June when the area he was in had been hit by heavy rain and snow.

Police announced this morning that his body had been found.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Sergeant Tony Matheson said Mr Myers appeared to have died from a sudden fall, probably on Thursday 30 May.

Mr Matheson said Mr Myers was believed to have been trying to get down to a stream area when he fell. The site had been searched several times already, but remained an area of interest and it was due to the good work of the helicopter company with a pilot going back in there this morning.

"It happened very suddenly, I don't think he suffered at all," Mr Matheson said. "When you're undertaking a journey like this, there's always going to be a risk."

He said the body was found about 6m below a waterfall at the headwaters of the Arete Stream. It was an area that searches for the past 14 days had focused on, but not in the direction of the Tarn Ridge Hut where Mr Myers was believed to have been heading.

"There's been a lot of places up there that we simply haven't been able to get to, and this has simply been one of them."

Murray Johnson from LandSAR said it was difficult to find him, despite looking in the right area, because of the terrain.

"We've had a lot of the days where we could only realistically do two or three hours work ... it has been a frustrating search knowing we were probably in the right place but just not being able to get to exactly the right areas.

"We found the haystack but it took a long time to find the needle."

Family 'very upset' - Brother-in-law

His brother-in-law Duncan Styles said the family felt gutted over the news, however, they were grateful that Mr Myers had not been trying to alert the attention of rescuers for days, nor had he been lying injured and in pain.

"Darren was a very ambitious guy ... very keen on the outdoors," he said.

It was Mr Myers' first visit to Tararua, but he had tramped in the Ruapehu area and was well aware of New Zealand environments.

He said the family was very upset and was taking things one step at a time and would be looking at having some form of ceremony in Wellington.

Search teams had been trying to find Mr Myers after he failed to arrive at Holdsworth in Wairarapa.

Mr Johnson paid tribute to the Search and Rescue teams from several regions of the North Island that had helped with the search and also thanked the public and businesses who had offered food and other support to search parties.

Mr Myers' body has been taken to the Masterton Hospital mortuary.

Police will further investigate the death on behalf of the coroner, Mr Matheson said.