Kayaker Scott Donaldson has been struck a blow in his bid to recover his stricken vessel after it separated from its locator beacon.
The kayak was spotted northwest of Farewell Spit by supporter and pilot John Funnell, who had been guided to its location by the beacon. It was on its side and had taken on water.
However, the kayak has since detatched from the beacon and drifted away, Mr Funnell said.
Mr Donaldson was forced to abandon the kayak off the Taranaki coastline when he was winched to safety on Friday after 83 days at sea, after a failed bid to be the first solo kayaker to row from Australia to New Zealand.
Today, Mr Donaldson set out on the MV Maggie Rose to collect the kayak, based on the coordinates of the beacon, Mr Funnell said.
"They're continuing to search. They've picked up the beacon, but there's no kayak."
Mr Donaldson and the crew on board the Maggie Rose would stay in the area all night continuing to look for the vessel, he said.
"It seems to me that poor old Scott, his problems never cease."
Mr Funnell would fly back out to the search area and attempt to find the kayak by air.
Mr Donaldson was making a second attempt to be the first person to cross kayak solo from Australia to New Zealand when he called in rescuers on Friday.
The attempt was abandoned after several days of bad weather and the threat of losing communications.
Yesterday Mr Donaldson said he wanted the kayak back because of its sentimental value, and the many requests he'd had to see the space he lived in for three months.
"She certainly looked after me, and it would be nice to have the thing back ... but I'm not holding my hopes too high," he said.
He had received thousands of emails from people wanting to wish him well, and many from people hoping to hear him speak about the journey, and for that he would need the kayak, he said.