New Zealand searchers find body of British hiker

Searchers on Wednesday found the body of a missing English hiker near the bottom of a waterfall in dense bush on New Zealand's North Island, police said.

Robert Atkin, 26, from Lancashire, had been missing since last Wednesday, when he failed to return from a hike in the Kaueranga Valley near the town of Thames.

Searchers found Atkin's body in an area of dense bush in the Rangihau Valley area six days after dozens of volunteers began combing the area, police rescue coordinator Sgt. Jim Corbett said.

The Rangihau Valley area follows the Rangihau Stream through some of the most difficult and dangerous terrain in the region.

"Police believe he may have slipped and fallen into the area of bush where his body was found, near the bottom of a waterfall," Corbett said in a statement.

The area was "very rugged and there were some steep bluffs. It's likely Mr. Atkin's body had been there for some days," he added.

Atkin is the fifth foreign tourist, including three other hikers and a climber, to die in outback incidents in New Zealand since Feb. 26.

Corbett said the death had been referred to the Coroner's Court. A post-mortem will determine the cause of death.

He said members of Atkin's family were on their way to New Zealand and his girlfriend remains in Thames, reports the AP.

I.L.