Tributes have flooded in from the devastated family and friends of British backpacker Stephanie Simpson who was found dead in New Zealand on a hiking holiday.
Ms Simpson, 32, from Essex, was reported missing on Monday after she failed to return from a weekend trek and her remains were found in a creek today at about 1.40pm.
Police say they found her body in a canyon at the bottom of Pyke Creek, an area of Mount Aspiring National Park close to where she was last seen.
Her grieving friends paid their tributes online. According to the Evening Standard, one close friend, Danny Kilbane wrote: ‘We are all heartbroken and are going to struggle to come to terms with our loss.
‘Steph you will be missed by all more than words can explain. RIP angel.’
Her brother-in-law Sam Hazelton said she was an ‘extremely determined and strong-willed person’.
Another friend wrote: ‘Stephanie was a bright light amongst many.’
Officers were able to narrow down the search after a rescue worker in a helicopter spotted her pack and boots close to the creek earlier in the day.
Police Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said Miss Simpson had hiked up to a popular spot known as Brewster’s Hut and was coming back down Mt Armstrong – where the hut sits – when she became disoriented.
She is thought to have removed her pack and boots and gone into the water in Pyke Creek before being washed downstream, Stuff.co.nz reports.
Her body was found in a canyon at the bottom of the stream in ‘close proximity’ to her pack, police added.
The discovery came just hours after her family had arrived in the country to help with search efforts.
The pack was spotted earlier in the day by a man in a helicopter, and the sighting was confirmed by reviewing drone footage from the previous day.
Creeks in the area tend to swell in the afternoon, Kirkwood added, as ice from the mountaintops melts in the sun.
This can create a stronger current meaning that previously safe areas become dangerous, perhaps explaining why she got into difficulties.
An official cause of death has not been given, and the death has been referred to the coroner for further examination.
Kirkwood urged people hiking alone to carry a locator beacon or a device that allows their movements to be tracked, and to keep it within reach at all times.
He added: ‘The search was extremely challenging at times, especially in consideration of the terrain, and the work of all involved is to be commended.’