The discovery of a body in a burning car near Kerikeri is being treated by police as unexplained.
Kerikeri Fire Brigade was called to the end of Wharau Rd, about 10km east of town, just after 7pm on Tuesday when residents reported a car on fire.
As firefighters doused the blaze they discovered what appeared to be a body inside the vehicle, sparking a police investigation.
The far end of Wharau Rd, which overlooks the entrance to Kerikeri Inlet and provides access to Wharau Bay, was cordoned off for much of Wednesday as police and Fire and Emergency NZ examined the scene.
Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Fouhy, of Mid North police, said it was too early to know whether the death was suspicious. For now it was being treated as unexplained, he said.
Police believed they knew who the person was but could not say more until the body was formally identified, a process that could take some time.
Fouhy said the alarm was raised around 7pm on Tuesday. When firefighters arrived about 15 minutes later the vehicle was engulfed and flames had started spreading into nearby vegetation.
They called police when they realised a body was inside.
The car and the deceased were removed on Wednesday afternoon.
A post-mortem would be carried out on Thursday to establish the cause of death.
One fire appliance and one tanker were called out to deal with the fire.
The blaze had spread into an area of vegetation measuring about 10m x 10m, Kerikeri fire chief Les Wasson said.
''It had the potential to go up the hill towards houses. It was lucky we'd had a bit of rain,'' he said.
Wharau Bay is one of the closest beaches to Kerikeri's town centre making it a popular spot for families and fishers.
The gravel parking area at the road end, including the scene of the fire, is believed to be covered by high-quality CCTV from a private residence.