Missing hikers from Charlotte-area found safe in New Zealand

A mother and daughter from the Charlotte area who had been the subject of an intense search in a rugged part of a New Zealand park were found alive Friday and are recovering, authorities say.

Carolyn Lloyd, 45, and her daughter Rachel Lloyd, 22, were spotted Friday afternoon (Saturday morning in New Zealand) by a helicopter pilot in the Tararua Forest Park, according to New Zealand Police.

They were airlifted to Kerepuru Hospital, north of Wellington on New Zealand’s north island.

Police reported the two women had used body heat to stay warm during the three days they had been missing, according to WBTV, the Observer’s news partner. It is mid-autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Rachel Lloyd, who attended Jay M. Robinson High in Cabarrus County, graduated in December as class valedictorian at N.C. State University. She is studying this semester at Massey University in New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Her mother had come for a visit, authorities said.

Police said the two women had planned a one-day hike Tuesday, according to the New Zealand Herald and WBTV. They were spotted by several people near the entrance of the Kapakapanui Trail, but were not seen again. Police began searching when the two hikers failed to return to pick up their rental car and check in at a hotel.

Dog teams, helicopters and four-wheel vehicles were used to search for the two women, police said.

Authorities said the area of the park where the women were hiking is very rugged but is popular with visitors.

“Rachel is suffering from dehydration and lack of food,” New Zealand Police Sgt. Anthony Harmer told a New Zealand television station (TV-3). “It is not clear exactly what has happened to them, but it appears they they have become disoriented and unable to find their way out.”

WBTV, the New Zealand Herald, the Associated Press and TV-3 contributed