The parents of tramper Jessica O'Connor "never had a doubt" they would find her alive after her and her tramping companion were not heard from for more than two weeks after entering Kahurangi National Park.
Ms O'Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, were found alive just before 1pm this afternoon, after having entered Kahurangi National Park on May 9. They had planned to stay in the area for six days, or when their food ran out, according to police.
“Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor were today found alive in the Anatori search area. The pair were located in the headwaters of the Frasier Stream shortly before 1pm by a search helicopter," Nelson Bays area commander inspector Paul Borrell said today in a press conference today.
“This is a fantastic outcome, and one that we were all hoping for although we were becoming increasingly concerned as the days progressed.”
Up to 50 people were involved in the search, made up of police NZDF, FENZ, LandSAR and DOC’s Aoraki Mt Cook search and rescue.
The pair have since been transported to Nelson Hospital with minor injuries, a St John Ambulance spokesperson told 1 NEWS.
Jessica's father, Mark O'Connor, told 1 NEWS they were "over the moon" with news of the resuce. Her mother, Simone O'Connor, added they "both burst into tears" upon hearing they had both been found alive.
Ms O'Connor said they spoke to Jessica over the phone for "about 30 seconds" following the rescue.
"She was very emotional, I think she was in tears and couldn't talk much so that was about it really, we will talk more once we see her," she said.
"She just said literally just said, 'Hey mum and dad, it's Jess,' and that was sort of about it, so we'll learn a bit more but apparently they're both in good shape so that's good," Mr O'Connor added.
Ms O'Connor said there had been "a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of worries" over their daughter.
However, she never doubted that she would be found alive.
"I never had a doubt about Jess. She knows what she's doing so that was keeping our hopes up. She's very adventurous and she knows," she said.
Ms O'Connor said Jessica is a kayak tour guide and an avid skiier, having spent a year in Japan skiing and working for an outdoor business there.
Mr O'Connor said they are "absolutely" proud of their daughter using her skills to survive.
"It'll be interesting to hear the full story but whatever it is it's seen her through so that's absolutely fantastic," he said.
Mr O'Connor paid tribute to the "absolutely professional" search and rescue teams the Fire and Emergency service, volunteers and the local community involved in the rescue.
"It’s just been fantastic, lots of volunteers on the weekend," Mr O'Connor said.
Mr O'Connor added that there had been "great communication" by police as they worked to find the pair.