Police have found the body of a Christchurch man who went missing while snorkelling off the Kaikoura Peninsula.

Canterbury Sergeant Jason Munro said the body was found in shallow water during low tide at East Head, about 6pm yesterday.

"It follows an extensive search, which began on Sunday, for a man who went snorkelling in the area and failed to return."

Munro said the discovery follows the disappearance of a 55-year-old Chinese man living in the city who went snorkelling in the area on Sunday.

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The man and his wife had driven up from Christchurch for the day and had intended to head back afterwards.

The man's death will be referred to the coroner, but Munro added it was a timely reminder for people to snorkel with a buddy when heading out in the ocean.

Formal identification of the body is ongoing, he said.

Police thanked Coastguard and others who helped search for the man.