A specialist police dive squad will recover the body of a man who died while diving in the Bay of Islands.

The Wellington-based police squad flew to Northland yesterday and were expected out at the scene near the Black Rocks following a tragic dive trip earlier in the day.

Sergeant Ryan Gray said police were called about 8.30am and the Police Maritime Unit, a commercial dive boat and the Northland Rescue Helicopter went to the scene.

The rescue helicopter winched a paramedic on to rocks off Moturoa Island, in the area where the diver was last seen, so he would be able to respond quickly if the 44-year-old man was located.

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The chopper then landed on nearby Moturoa Island to wait.

Rescuers search the water where the diver went missing next to a small rocky islet off Moturoa Island. Photo / NEST
Rescuers search the water where the diver went missing next to a small rocky islet off Moturoa Island. Photo / NEST

After some time on the rocks, when hope faded for the missing diver, the paramedic was winched back on board. It is understood the diver had got into trouble underwater.

Commercial dive operators later found the missing man's dive bag outside a small cave. The area is understood to be riddled with caves.

It was a busy day for the Northland Rescue Helicopter team.

The flight to Moturoa was the second with the first being to Peach Cove on Whangārei Heads at 8.50am.

A tramper had fractured his leg and after being winched into the helicopter was flown to Whangārei Hospital.

From the tragic dive scene the team were then dispatched Waima where an elderly patient was flown to hospital with a critical medical condition.

There were no callouts for the helicopter crew on December 24 or 25 which was very unusual.

However since Boxing Day there have been 45 jobs.

"Having two crewed helicopters over this busy time has been essential to saving lives given that they have been called out at the same time often over this period," Vanessa Furze of the service said.