A New Plymouth teenager has lost his life during an ill-fated attempt to cross a Taranaki river.

Police today named 17-year-old Jaden Peterson as the person swept away as he tried to cross the Waiwhakaiho River yesterday afternoon.

The officer in charge of the search and rescue, Acting Sergeant Peter Lawn said police were notified at 4.40pm and began a large-scale search involving police, LandSAR personnel, coastguard, surf rescue and the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter.

Jaden was found submerged in the river at 5.25pm, about 200m from where he was last seen.

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Police today extended their sympathies to his family and friends.

Lawn said people needed to be vigilant around river crossings as all crossings were potentially dangerous.

To reduce the risks when crossing a river, it was recommended that appropriate clothing was worn, an assessment of the river made and to never cross the river alone.

He said if in doubt, people were advised to stay out of the river.