A pair of hearing-impaired Israeli tourists who sparked a search and rescue operation in Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, have yet to explain to police where they disappeared to for six hours.
The men were hiking on Spotts Creek track toward Mt Roy when they were separated from the third member of their party.
The third man contacted police at 1pm Monday saying he was concerned for the pair as both men, aged in their 20s, had significant hearing impairments and one had a significant sight impairment.
Search and Rescue coordinator Sergeant Aaron Nicholson says two ground teams made their way towards each other from opposite ends of the track.
But after six hours of searching they found no sign of the pair.
"Given the confines of the valley system they were travelling it should have been relatively simple work to locate the missing pair but this wasn't the case."
The search was about to be intensified, with aerial teams called in when the two men appeared at the car park, a little tired but otherwise unscathed, Nicholson says.
"Given the communication difficulties with the group due to language and hearing disabilities, it is still unclear as to where they have been."
He says the group had sought advice on the track from the Department of Conservation and followed orange markers back to the track's start point.
"Apart from disappearing for six hours and not having a decent map they had got everything else pretty much right."