A devastated man who mistakenly shot his friend during a hunting trip near Rotorua this morning is assisting police as they try to reach the body.
The man, aged in his 30s, alerted police just before 8am following the accident in remote bush off Te Kopia Rd in the Waikete Valley, about 30km south of Rotorua.
Rotorua area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the shooting appeared to be accidental, "and another tragic reminder of the absolute necessity for hunters to properly identify their target before they shoot''.
It is the third hunting-related death this year.
Members of the Armed Offenders Squad who were returning from an unrelated matter were diverted to the scene.
A rescue helicopter is at the scene with medical staff, and police search and rescue staff are trying to locate the body of the other hunter.
"The challenging location means it will be some time before we can piece together exactly what happened,'' Inspector Horne said.
The hunter was in a "very distressed state'' but was assisting the investigation, being led by Rotorua CIB.