Bodies found in search for missing tourists

Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux
Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux

Two bodies have been recovered from a remote South Island mountain range in the search for a missing Canadian duo.

Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux, both 23, were reported overdue by family members on Saturday after failing to return from the 60-kilometre Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park.

Search and rescue coordinator Sergeant Ian Martin says the bodies were discovered in avalanche debris along the walkway.

The discovery follows an aerial search on Sunday where a body was spotted about 350 metres below the track, between the Hanging Valley Hut and the Iris Burn Hut.

"It appears that a small avalanche has been triggered and swept them down the side of the mountain," Sgt Martin says. "[One of the bodies was found] yesterday from the search helicopter, and the other one was located beneath it."

The bodies are yet to be formally identified but the search has been completed, and police will now begin investigating for the coroner. Both bodies were lifted out by helicopter this morning and have been taken to Te Anau for formal identification.

The families have notified of the latest development and police will continue to liaise with the Canadian High Commission in New Zealand and authorities in Montreal.

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