• The ruged Tararua Range in NZ's North Island.
    The ruged Tararua Range in NZ's North Island.

A British bushwalker missing for almost two weeks in a mountain range in the North Island has been found dead at the bottom of a waterfall.

On Wednesday NZ Police confirmed they had found the body of 49 year-old Darren Myers, who failed to return from a five-day trip into the rugged Tararua Range on June 1.

Search teams scouring the area battled difficult terrain and often severe weather, with Myers spotted from the air mid week amid improved conditions.

Myers had died very suddenly, possibly last week, although it was not yet clear whether further upstream or from a fall down the six-metre waterfall where he was located, Sergeant Tony Matheson said.

Search and rescue manager David Eaton said it had been one of the largest searches of the range, with 75 instances of a team or helicopter taking a trip into the mountains.

There were only two days of weather clear enough for an effective search, he said. A team had to be pulled from the ridges on Tuesday due to the conditions.

"The searchers were very relieved to get a result, all the searchers are quite emotional."

A British citizen living in Wellington, Myers had been described by relatives as a well-prepared adventurer familiar with the country's hiking conditions.

His distraught family took some solace from the fact he died quickly, brother-in-law Duncan Styles said.

"One of the hardest thing's we've had to bear with is ... that he's up there and alive and waving at a helicopter, potentially, and not being seen and potentially in a lot of pain or a lot of distress," Styles said.

"To know that he's not been able to respond for the last few days is actually a really good relief for us."

Myers' disappearance this month prompted warnings about the scenic mountain range, with experts saying shifting conditions - particularly in winter - and challenging terrain made it a danger for even experienced hikers.

Nearly two dozen people are thought to have died in the area since the 1970s.

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