Two men have drowned in the surf at Piha Beach and a third man rescued from the water is in a serious condition.
The three men went for a swim about 7pm yesterday and an "intensive search" last night failed to find the two men who did not make it to shore.
"The three got into difficulty and one was pulled from the water in a serious condition. He is currently receiving medical attention," police said in a statement.
Piha Surf Life Saving Club captain Tony Featherstone said the men were believed to have been swimming in a notoriously dangerous part of the beach after patrols had closed for the day.
He said surf lifesavers joined the search until after sunset about 9pm.
The bodies of the two men who drowned, believed to be in their 20s, were found by lifesavers on northern side of Lion Rock at the beach during a shoreline search at about 6.40 this morning.
"Where we have been informed that they entered the water it's a notoriously dangerous spot [with] rips and strong currents," Mr Featherstone said.
"When we're patrolling it's a place that we actively monitor.
"People aren't normally swimming in that area [because it is too dangerous]."
St John northern communications team manager Norm Ngatai said the rescued man, aged in his 30s, had swallowed a lot of water before he was brought to shore.
Police said next of kin are "still being located and advised".