The search for Israeli backpacker Liat Tess-Okin, 35 – who went missing two weeks ago after setting out for a hike around Queenstown, New Zealand – continued Thursday, aided by the addition of a helicopter underwritten by Chabad-Lubavitch of Sydney, Australia.

Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, the Canterbury-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of New Zealand who joined the search for the missing woman, said that while investigators grow increasingly skeptical Tess-Okin's survival, interviews with friends have provided rays of hope.

"All the people whom we've interviewed have described her as very adventurous and eager to explore," related Goldstein, who accompanied authorities on an aerial survey of the search area. "She often wanders off into the woods to be on her own."


Despite earlier reports that Tess-Okin may have set off on her journey with little provisions, the rabbi said that one acquaintance thought otherwise.

The friend said that the woman was "over-packed with food, such as bread, cheese and prepared sandwiches," stated Goldstein.

Queenstown Police Sgt. Steve Hutt told the NZPA press agency that search teams are now focusing on little-used side tracks branching off from popular hiking paths.

"We're going to be re-visiting those from different angles and putting field teams into positions where someone might end up if they fell," said Hutt. "We're not setting a time limit on this. We want to find the girl."

Tess-Okin was last seen wearing a red hoodie with zip-up front, jeans and a backpack. Friends reported her missing a week ago after she failed to contact them one week after setting out on a three-day trek alone. She is 1.6 meters tall with a thin build, olive complexion, brown eyes and dark, curly, shoulder-length hair worn in a ponytail.

Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is urged to call Rabbi Mendel Goldstein via this link.