A fisherman who was missing near Great Barrier Island, northeast of Auckland, has been found dead on his boat.

The man, who is in his 40s, left Whangarei two days ago and fished at the Mokohinau Islands.

His wife notified emergency services when he failed to return yesterday.

Police said the man's boat was spotted by a Coastguard plane that went to search for him early this morning.

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A spokeswoman said a boat later reached the man's vessel, which was anchored at The Needles, and found him dead on board.

She said it looks like the man died from a medical event.

A police launch is on the way to recover the man's body.

The Coroner has been informed of the man's death.