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Missing pair's crossing to be scrutinised

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 11/01/2017

Alan and Que Langdon left Kawhia Harbour in Waikato on this small catamaran one week before Christmas (file photo) © NZ Police Alan and Que Langdon left Kawhia Harbour in Waikato on this small catamaran one week before Christmas (file photo) Yachtsman Alan Langdon has defied the odds and scepticism by some New Zealand authorities that he could cross the Tasman Sea in a tiny sailboat, says a child recovery specialist.

Mr Langdon and his six-year-old daughter, Que Langdon, were reported missing after leaving Kawhia Harbour in Waikato on a small catamaran on 17 December.

Australian authorities told New Zealand police this afternoon they had been found in the town of Ulladulla in New South Wales.

Que Langdon, six, and her father Alan Langdon have not been heard from since they left Kawhia on a sailing trip on 17 December.Alan and Que Langdon Photo: Facebook Mr Langdn told the Milton Ulladulla Times that one of the catamaran's rudders broke four days into the journey. He was left to steer with one rudder.

"I tell you I learnt a lot about sailing," he said.

"Yes we are safe and well. We were always safe, we just couldn't let anyone know."

Mr Langdon told the Milton Ulladulla Times that he and his daughter were looking forward to some much needed rest and planned to spend the night in a motel.

When asked about his daughter's well-being Mr Langdon said Que was "happy".

"We had plenty of food and saw lots of whales," he said.

Que and her father © Facebook Que and her father Child Recovery Services contractor Col Chapman, who has been working for Que's mother, said many believed the pair would not make it.

"It was thought that no one in their reasonable mind would attempt it, but they did, and landed safely," he said.

Mr Chapman said it was not clear how long the journey took, but he believed the pair had been in Australia for about two days.

New Zealand police carried out an extensive search of the sea and coast between Wellington, Cape Reinga and the Bay of Islands, before it was called off last week. Interpol alerted Australian authorities about the missing pair on Monday.

The police said the possibility Mr Langdon had sailed to Australia was always considered. They said the Australian authorities were yet to officially identify the pair found in Ulladulla, but they believed it was Mr Langdon and his daughter.

Mr Chapman was hired by Que's mother, Ariane Wyler, to track down the pair. He told RNZ this afternoon he had been told a member of the public in Australia had recognised them from the posters he had distributed up the coast.

"Alan and Que are now with the Australian authorities - our border and immigration authorities," Mr Chapman said.

Mr Chapman told RNZ last week that he no longer believed Mr Langdon's voyage was an innocent sailing trip, and alleged it was an attempt to take Que and elude the family court system

Ariane Wyler Langdon and her daughter, Que Langdon. © Supplied Ariane Wyler Langdon and her daughter, Que Langdon. Mr Chapman also said early on in the search that he no longer believed Mr Langdon's voyage was an innocent sailing trip, and alleged it was an attempt to take Que and elude the family court system.

'Elated and thrilled'

Mr Chapman has spoken with Ms Wyler, who he described as "elated and thrilled and beside herself with glee" but at the same time very confused. He said it was unclear at this point whether she would travel from Switzerland to Australia or to New Zealand.

Ms Wyler's flatmate in Golden Bay, where she had been living before returning to Switzerland to care for her mother, said she was "ecstatic".

The flatmate, Kelcey Chandler, said Ms Wyler knew from day one that it was more than likely they were headed for Australia.

"She's now packing her bags and trying to get some sleep because it's the middle of the night in Switzerland," Ms Chandler said.

Mr Chapman said whatever happened next was up to the New Zealand and Australian authorities.

"It depends how seriously New Zealand views them leaving illegally and in breach of court orders, and how seriously Australia views them arriving illegally.

"Que has no passport, and Alan didn't exit New Zealand legally or enter Australia legally, but in my opinion Que will be returning to New Zealand," Mr Chapman said.

The New Zealand police said they were liaising with their counterparts in Australia and awaiting further information about Mr Langdon's journey.

"Police will take time to assess all the information about today's development, and the background to this matter before any further steps required from a police perspective are considered and agreed," a spokesperson said.


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