The family of a man who has been missing in Coromandel bush for more than two months hopes the finding of his dog will provide clues to his whereabouts.
Jordan van Deursen, 29, failed to return from a hike in the Wentworth valley area with his terrier Bahgo on October 29, and the official search was suspended after 10 days.
Police confirmed on Wednesday Bahgo had turned up at a rural address near a track entrance linked to where van Deursen was last known to be — but there was still no sign of the 29-year-old.
Van Deursen’s uncle Mario Kerkhof said it was “heart-warming” to have Bahgo home.
“He’s doing well, he’s a bit skinny, he lost about 1kg, but he’s so happy to be around people he knows again,” he said.
Kerkhof said search teams would be heading back into the area Bahgo had come out from.
“So that’s good, it’s opened up a whole new area for the police and search parties to look for. We’ve got some trackers going in on horseback and they’re going to take Bahgo out as well on Friday, so that’ll be interesting to see where he leads them,” he said.
Police said they were assessing the circumstances around van Deursen’s dog being found, and reviewing information provided by the public.
Kerkhof previously told RNZ Bahgo was the 29-year-old’s “best friend”.
“He’s hiking every day with his mate, his little dog, his best friend, he knows a bit about the bush but not enough to be out there this long,” Kerkhof said.
“I doubt he would’ve taken much with him if he was going for a quick hike, he would’ve just taken the basics, he probably wouldn’t even have taken any water knowing Jordan, he does rough it a bit. I think he had tramping boots and might have had a jersey.”
The alarm was not raised until three days after van Deursen began his Sunday hike, after his car was spotted still in the car park the following Wednesday.
By then the weather had turned incredibly bad, with the tail of Cyclone Lola lashing the area.
An air and land search had not turned up any clues, and was suspended after 10 days.
Police want to hear from anyone with information on van Deursen’s whereabouts.