Wellington Scoop

Missing in the hills overnight: 17-year-old Italian student found safe and well

News from NZ Police
The Italian exchange student Eric Rigamonti, missing overnight in the hills between Eastbourne and Wainuiomata, was found safe and well early this afternoon.

He walked out of the rugged bush between Eastbourne and Wainuiomata on to Coast Road in Wainuiomata. He then made his way to a local property from where he contacted his host family and Police.

Wellington Police thank the search and rescue personnel for their efforts and the public for their assistance.

Earlier News from NZ Police
Wellington Police are searching for an Italian exchange student who went missing in the rugged hills between Wainuiomata and Eastbourne last night.

Eric Rigamonti entered the bush with two fellow exchange students from Japan and Spain at 3pm yesterday afternoon.

Snr Sgt Carolyn McKenzie said that the 17 year-old sent a text message to his host family at 9pm last night saying that the group had become lost in dense bush.

“Police spoke to Eric on his smart-phone at around 11pm last night,” Snr Sgt McKenzie said. “He told us that he had separated from his friends to find mobile phone reception after the group became disorientated.”

Snr Sgt McKenzie said that Police launched a search and rescue operation at 11pm last night and at around 5am this morning Eric’s two classmates from Wainuiomata College were located near Golans Creek.

“Police would like to hear from anyone that tramped through the Golans Creek area yesterday,” Snr Sgt McKenzie said.

“Currently we have 25 search and rescue personnel searching the rugged bush between Eastbourne and Wainuiomata. Due to low cloud helicopters are unable to be used at this time.”

“Extra resources from Levin and Palmerston North will be arriving shortly to join the search.”

Police say that while they are concerned for Eric’s safety he is a fit and active 17 year-old who is an experienced trail walker.