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Human remains found in NZ likely missing hiker

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Marni Sheppeard was officially reported missing in January, however she was last heard from on November 19, 2020, when she posted a photo of herself on Twitter.

Searchers looking for missing hiker Marni Sheppeard have located human remains on the West Coast of New Zealand.

The remains were recovered in the Rolleston River area, near Otira, and taken to Christchurch for official identification.

"While an official identification process is yet to be completed, we believe the remains to be that of Ms Sheppeard," West Coast search and rescue leader Senior Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said.

Her mother Ailsa Sheppeard - who lives in Sydney - has been informed but said she was awaiting the DNA results.

She was too upset to give further comment.

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Police search teams scour the Rolleston River area on the West Coast, where human remains believed to be missing tramper Marni Sheppeard were recovered on Saturday

"This is obviously not the outcome we were hoping for but, pending confirmation, will bring some closure to Ms Sheppeard's family and friends."

The Sydney woman had only heard her daughter was missing in February.

The last contact she had was a postcard sent with a picture from Hanmer Springs that read: "I hope all is well".

Ms Sheppeard was officially reported missing in January, however she was last heard from on November 19, 2020, when she posted a photo of herself on Twitter saying she was "off to the mountains".

Inquiries were conducted and information was sought from the public.

In March, a member of the public gave police an entry from the "intentions book" at the Waimakariri Falls Hut, dated November 11, 2020.

"It had Ms Sheppeard's name on it and suggested she was likely heading to the Waimakariri Col, Rolleston River or Hunts Creek."

A helicopter with observers on board searched the area and then a drone team from Urban Search and Rescue flew the area recording images which were analysed.

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"Nothing of note was seen however several areas of interest were identified which assisted in the planning of the ground operation.

"The search area contained high alpine and bush areas, gorges with waterfalls and boulder fields, which was to be a challenge for search teams."

Marni Sheppeard, left, was rescued with her friend Sonja Rendell in 2003 after they became stranded in Arthur's Pass

Three field teams which included LandSAR volunteers and police, two CanyonSar teams, Alpine Cliff Rescue, two police dogs and a LandSAR dog with their handlers were deployed into the area by Precision Helicopters.

"We would like to thank the dedicated search teams and the members of the public who came forward with information," Mr Kirkwood said.

Ms Sheppeard previously went missing in 2003, when she was stranded on an exposed ridge in Arthur's Pass National Park for eight days while on a hike with a friend.

Source: 9News

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