A driver who had failed to show up in Westport last night died after his car hit a tree, police say.

The man was reported overdue at 10.40am today after he did not arrive at his destination on Saturday night.

Police searched the route today, eventually finding his car off the road in the Lower Buller Gorge where it had crashed into a tree.

The driver, who was the car's only occupant, died at the scene, police said.

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The road is open tonight but will be closed tomorrow to allow a crane to remove the car.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating.