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Lost hikers found alive after 18 days in New Zealand forest

WELLINGTON – Two New Zealand hikers survived for more than 18 days in a densely forested national park before being found alive on Wednesday (May 27), rescue officials said.

Ms Jessica O’Connor and Mr Dion Reynolds, both 23, hiked into Kahurangi National Park in the north-west of New Zealand’s South Island on May 9, and were expected to return in five days. They were reported missing by a friend on May 18.

A search helicopter located the pair soon afternoon on Wednesday, and they were taken to be medically assessed at a hospital, police said.

“This is a fantastic outcome and one that we were all hoping for, although we were becoming increasingly concerned as the days progressed,” said Nelson Bays Area Commander Paul Borrell.

Police said initial indications were that the pair became lost in fog during the first few days of their hike. They decided to stay put and had run out of food by the time they were found.

At 452,002ha, Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second-largest national park.

It was also one of the locations for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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