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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 04:16 GMT 05:16 UK
Missing Briton's body found in NZ
Robert Atkin (photo courtesy of TVNZ)
Robert Atkin was only equipped for a day hike, police said
Searchers have found the body of a British hiker who had been missing for a week in the New Zealand bush.

Robert Atkin, 26, from Lancashire, was reported missing last Wednesday after he failed to come back from a hike in the Kauaeranga Valley on North Island.

A search team discovered Mr Atkin's body in dense bush near the base of a waterfall just after 1000 local time on Wednesday (Tuesday 2300 BST).

New Zealand police believe he may have slipped and fallen.

Sergeant Jim Corbett, of Waikato Police, said it was likely that Mr Atkin's body had been there for a few days.

He said the area was very rugged and was home to some steep bluffs.

About 100 searchers, along with tracker dogs and helicopters, had been combing the notoriously dense bush but the operation had been scaled down to a smaller team of 10.

On holiday

Mr Atkin was three weeks into a year-long holiday in New Zealand with his girlfriend, when he went missing.

Map showing New Zealand
The day he disappeared he was lightly-equipped for a day hike near the town of Thames, police said.

Rescue workers said Mr Atkin had experience of hiking in the UK, but not in New Zealand.

They said last week that he may have become disoriented by using northern hemisphere sun settings and inadvertently headed further into the bush.

Mr Atkin's family are travelling to New Zealand, while his girlfriend is in Thames.

Police said Mr Atkin's death had been referred to the coroner and a post-mortem examination would be conducted.

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