The body of a foreign 22-year-old male was recovered from the surf at Mt Maunganui this morning.

Police believe the man entered the water in the early hours of this morning and said it appeared he had drowned but this could not be confirmed until a post mortem was completed.

He was found floating in the surf opposite Rabbit Island by a person walking their dog about 6.20am.

Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said inquiries were being made, including speaking to people who knew the man and making inquiries into possible sightings last night.

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"Once we put that all together then we should be in a situation to reconstruct his movements, so we can satisfy ourselves as to what led to him entering the water as he did."

The man had been in New Zealand for "some time" and police were working with his homeland to identify his next of kin, Mr Saunders said.

"We have identified him, we know who he is, we know where he's from, but until such time as his next of kin have been notified we won't be releasing that to any parties."

Earlier this morning, members of the public looked on as a section of the beach was cordoned off while police recovered the body from the surf and wrapped it in what appeared to be a white sheet.

The body was removed from the beach about 8.30am.

Cordons have since been removed and the matter has been referred to the coroner.

The man is the seventh person to die in and around water in this holiday period.

On Christmas Day, a 3-year-old boy drowned in the Hawkes Bay, and a foreign pair drowned at a beach near Raglan.

Also on that day a 17-year-old Whanganui boy was caught in a rip.

His body was found last night just north of where he went missing.

On Boxing Day, an 82-year-old Briton drowned at Opito Bay in the Bay of Islands.

She had been out for a dawn walk and it seemed that upon returning home, she had suffered a medical event and fallen into a pond and drowned.

About 6pm, a 12-year-old boy riding an inflatable ski biscuit behind a boat was hit by a passing vessel on Blue Lake at St Bathans in Central Otago.

He and his mother were flown to Dunedin Hospital but he later died of his injuries.

Water Safety New Zealand said this holiday period had the worst start to drowning statistics since 2003, when five people died in the first two days.

- additional reporting: George Freeman of Newstalk ZB