Wellington Police Search and Rescue are becoming increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of missing Polish tramper Jacek Grzybowski.
Inspector Mike Wright, in charge of the search for the 28-year-old computer software engineer, says there's still no sign of Mr Grzybowski who has been missing since Saturday, possibly in the Rimutaka Forest Park.
"Mr Grzybowski was not equipped for more than his intended day's tramp," he says. "He had a good green and black Gortex jacket, boots, a black day pack and had a map but he's not familiar with the area.
"Our concern is that he's become lost or slipped and fallen somewhere."
Friends and his employer reported him missing to police yesterday.
Police know now from CCTV footage that Mr Grzybowski was seen standing on a platform at Wellington Railway Station at 6.57am on Saturday. It's thought that he may have caught the 7.03am train to Waterloo and then possibly a bus to Wainuiomata.
As a result of calls this morning from members of the public, police have a confirmed sighting of a man matching Mr Grzybowski's description asking for directions in Sunny Grove, Wainuiomata, about 9am on Saturday.
"He spoke to a couple of householders asking where he could find the entrance to the track," Inspector Wright says. "One of the access points for the Whakanui Track is off Sunny Grove so we believe he headed out onto that track."
Seven search teams (27 people) and the Westpac Rescue helicopter have been combing sections of the Rimutaka Forest Park all day but so far there's no sign of the tramper. At least three of the teams will remain in the bush overnight.
"Lots of people use the tracks, especially over a long weekend," Inspector Wright says. "We need to hear from people who saw Jacek or perhaps spoke with him to find out just where he went."
He says police have been liaising with Jacek's friends in Wellington to try and find out more about his bush experience. Police have also spoken to the Polish Ambassador in Wellington to liaise with his family.
"His friends are naturally worried about him," Inspector Wright says. "Jacek is fit and healthy but he wasn't planning on being in the bush for so long. It's been cold and wet so conditions would not be comfortable for him."
Inspector Wright says the variety of tracks in the Forest Park range from easy walks through to some challenging terrain, particularly around Mt Matthews which is one area Mr Grzybowski had been keen to visit.
Searchers are also checking the more than 50 huts in the area to see if he has taken shelter in them.
If anyone can help with sightings or information about Mr Grzybowski, please call police on 0800 TIPOFF - 0800 847 633.
Released by Kaye Calder
Wellington Police District communications manager
tel 04 496 3464