Wellington Police Search and Rescue is urging parents and caregivers to keep a close eye on children when in the bush after a callout for a missing five-year-old in the Kaitoke Regional Park today.
Sergeant Jo Holden, police Search and Rescue coordinator, says the child had run ahead from her parents on the Pakuratahi Track close to the Kaitoke waterworks. Fortunately the girl was found at 2.45pm, two hours and 6.5km away from where she'd last been seen by mum and dad.
"For little legs she'd travelled a surprisingly long distance in a short amount of time. It shows how quickly children can run off and how alert parents need to be when walking with youngsters in the bush."
Sergeant Holden says the child's parents, who were out of town visitors, assumed their daughter had reached the carpark ahead of them. When she wasn't there, they called police and a search was activated.
An older couple walking the track from the Twin Lakes end found the tearful youngster sitting at the edge of the track. A regional park ranger searching by vehicle soon reunited her with her parents.
Meanwhile Constable Matt Fage and police search dog Blade were tracking the wee girl's footprints from the Kaitoke end and a police and civilian volunteer search team was being mobilised.
"The girl was lightly dressed and it was overcast and beginning to drizzle when she was found," Sergeant Holden says.
"It was a happy ending to today's search but it could have turned out differently.
"Holding children back in the outdoors isn't easy, but parents and caregivers do need to keep youngsters in sight, especially when walking in the bush."