A member of a diving party says conditions were perfect for night-time diving when two men drowned.

Police are continuing to probe the deaths of the pair, who were free diving on Saturday night off Great Barrier Island when they disappeared.

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The men who died freediving off Great Barrier Island

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Police national dive squad members recovered the bodies of Igor Petrenko, 31, and Gena Sibaev, 55. It's believed they went missing while diving for crayfish off a boat.

Dan Thomas said he and Mr Petrenko had agreed to return to their boat after 30 minutes but Mr Petrenko didn't arrive.

In a Facebook post, Mr Thomas said: "We spotted his light in the water and after a min[ute] of watching it with no movement I dived in."

But he couldn't reach his friend and after a few minutes the diving party saw Mr Petrenko's torch drop to the sea-floor.

Thinking it might be dangerous, the rest of the group left the water.

"Police divers said that the rock which Igor was diving in had a suction current and pulled both divers under," Mr Thomas said.

"My thoughts, my love and my whole-hearted apology goes to the loved ones of both."

A police spokeswoman said the alarm was raised after a diver did not resurface, and a second diver who went to investigate also disappeared.