Operation launched to find Hampshire man missing in New Zealand

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A SEARCH and rescue mission has been launched for a man, reportedly from the Portsmouth area, who has been missing for five days after going mountain trekking.

James Esbester, who is believed to be from Clanfield, Waterlooville, set off on his own on Thursday morning to climb Mount Luna, in Nelson, New Zealand.

He failed to return to his digs and a large scale rescue mission, including rescue dogs, is underway. His father is flying to the country to help with the search.

Mr Esbester left a note of his plans at an area called Stone Hunt. Two days later, a hiking party found the note and his equipment.

Searchers have found indications Esbester climbed Mt Luna, then deviated from his planned ascent - going into what police describe as ‘quite gnarly’ country.