Essex

Stephanie Simpson: Family of woman missing in New Zealand at 'wits' end'

Stephanie Simpson Image copyright Facebook/Stephanie Simpson
Image caption Stephanie Simpson is thought to have gone for a hike in Mount Aspiring National Park

The family of a British woman missing in New Zealand have said they are at their "wits' end" waiting for news.

Stephanie Simpson, 32, from Essex, is thought to have gone on a hike last weekend in Mount Aspiring National Park in the country's South Island.

Her brother-in-law Sam Hazelton told the New Zealand Herald the family were "hoping upon hope" she will be found.

Police are due to increase the search for Ms Simpson, from the Basildon area, who was reported missing on Monday.

Mr Hazelton said: "You can't imagine, it's pretty awful. The hardest thing, I think, is just the not-knowing.

"The team said they're searching for somebody who's alive, but they also have asked a number of questions," Mr Hazelton said.

He described Ms Simpson as an "extremely determined and strong-willed person".

Image copyright Facebook/Stephanie Simpson
Image caption Stephanie Simpson is thought to have been an experienced hiker

According to her Facebook account, Ms Simpson had been living in the Wanaka area since November and was working as a landscaper.

Mount Aspiring National Park, in New Zealand's Southern Alps region, is described as a "dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes".

The search for Ms Simpson is due to resume for a fifth day later with more search teams, who will focus on the Pyke area of the park.

A thermal-imaging drone, dog teams, helicopter and search teams failed to find any sign of her on Thursday.

Police in New Zealand said the search was difficult due to the size and terrain of the area.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The wilderness of Mount Aspiring National Park attracts a range of outdoor enthusiasts

A crowdfunding campaign to support the LANDSAR rescue team searching for Ms Simpson has been launched by a friend who described her as "the most kind-hearted caring person you could wish to know".

The JustGiving page goes on to say her "love for the outdoors and adventure has taken her to the other side of the world".

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