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Lost hikers found after 18 days in the New Zealand wilderness

Pair went missing after venturing into Kahurangi National Park on New Zealand's South Island.
Image: A helicopter waits as search and rescue workers board during a rescue operation to find two missing trampers in the Kahurangi National Park in the South Island of New Zealand
Search and rescue workers board a helicopter during a rescue operation to find two missing hikers in the Kahurangi National Park in the South Island of New Zealand, on Wednesday.CPL Naomi James/New Zealand Defence Force / AP

WELLINGTON - A pair hikers of survived for more than 18 days in a densely-forested national park in New Zealand before being found alive on Wednesday, rescue officials said.

Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, hiked into Kahurangi National Park in the northwest of New Zealand’s South Island on May 9, and were expected to return in five days. They were reported missing by a friend on May 18.

A search helicopter located the pair soon after noon on Wednesday, and the were taken to be medically assessed at a hospital, police said.

Search and rescue crews located two missing hikes in the Kahurangi National Park in the South Island of New ZealandCPL Naomi James/New Zealand Defence Force / AP

“This is a fantastic outcome and one that we were all hoping for, although we were becoming increasingly concerned as the days progressed,” said Nelson Bays Area Commander Paul Borrell.

Police said initial indications were that the pair became lost in fog during the first few days of their hike. They decided to stay put and had run out of food by the time they were found.

At 452,002 hectares, Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second largest national park. It was also one of the locations for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.