Missing Otago hunter found alive

The weather conditions on Monday (LandSAR)
The weather conditions on Monday (LandSAR)

A hunter missing in a vast bush area near Balclutha for two days has been reunited with his family.

Fears were sparked when the man failed to return with his hunting party on Saturday afternoon. His companions called police around 11am on Sunday.

The rescue team called out to the 27-year-old and he was able to answer, before they found him sitting down in the bush shortly before 3pm. Constable Murray Hewitson says he is doing "remarkably well" but was extremely cold. 

The man was checked by a nurse before changing clothes and getting in a warm sleeping bag. 

Thirty ground crew were searching the bush area on Monday, along with a specialist search dog.

"Weather conditions in the area are cold and drizzly so the man would have faced a cold night," Const Hewitson says. 

He says they used everything they could think of to find the man. 

"He's one lucky man who needs to buy a lotto ticket."

An incident control centre has been set up on John O'Groats Rd near the Blue Mountains (Grant Findlay)

Searchers were concentrating on a narrowed down area this morning, but bad weather hampered efforts to use a helicopter. 

The hunter was wearing three layers of clothing and good gloves, with rainproof gear on his top half, Const Hewitson said. Police say he also had a backpack with a basic first aid kit and a thermal blanket, but any overnight equipment was back in his vehicle.

Const Hewitson says crews remained positive in finding the hunter safe and well today, but would've been worried if they were still searching tomorrow. 

Sunday's search 

Const Hewitson says the search on Sunday night was hard work in the dark and wet conditions.

On Sunday, police and LandSAR teams had found some footprints of interest.

A helicopter equipped with night-vision equipment was used to try and find the hunter as he was understood to have a lighter with him. Searchers had hoped the light source would've been picked up on the helicopters night-vision equipment.

The man also fired shots from his rifle, which helped pinpoint his location.

Foggy weather conditions in the bush area (Grant Findlay)