Police and New Zealand Land Search and Rescue teams are today combing tracks in the Rimutaka Forest Park near Wainuiomata for a missing 28-year-old Polish tourist.
Mr Jacek Grzybowski, a computer software engineer, was expected to return from a day tramp on Saturday. His Polish flatmates became increasingly concerned and, unsure what to do, contacted their employer yesterday who alerted police.
Inspector Mike Wright, Operations Manager for Wellington District Police, said 24 searchers, split into six teams, are operating out of the Rimutaka Forest Park visitor centre, focusing on likely tracks in the Catchpool and Mt Matthews area.
Two teams are being dropped into the bush by the Westpac Rescue helicopter which will then sweep the Orongorongo River, while other teams are going by foot and four wheel drive vehicles.
"Our biggest problem is that we don't know for certain just where Mr Grzybowski intended to go," Inspector Wright said. "He'd talked with friends about the Belmont Regional Park and the Rimutaka Forest Park but didn't say for sure just where he planned to go.
"Both parks are very popular for trampers, walkers and outdoor enthusiasts. We're appealing to people, particularly those who were in the parks during Queen's Birthday Weekend to contact police.
"The best information we have at this stage is that he was keen to get into the Orongorongo Valley which is why we are focusing on the Rimutaka Forest Park. There are several tracks of varying difficulty with entrances from Wainuiomata and from the main visitor entrance off the Coast Road."
Mr Gryzbowski, is 180cm tall, with brown/blond hair and of medium build. He is fit and healthy, and spends a lot of time in the outdoors. He arrived in Wellington to work in February and has spent most weekends exploring bush and coastal tracks in the Wellington region.
He's believed to be wearing a green and black Gortex jacket and carrying a small black backpack. It's not known what other clothing or equipment he had with him.
Mr Gryzbowski doesn't have access to a car or bike and is known to have researched train and bus timetables.
"We need to hear from people who saw him on trains or buses, as well as in the park," Inspector Wright said.
It has been cold and wet at times over the last few days and river levels have fluctuated in the area.
"He only planned a day trip so we're obviously concerned the longer he's out there."
The number to call with information on possible sightings is: 0800 TIPOFF - 0800 847 633.
Released by Kaye Calder
Wellington Police District communications manager
tel 04 496 3464