Paengaroa man Robert Te Paewhenua Roberts went missing in 2004 after his work van careered off the Kaimai Range lookout.
His body was never found despite extensive searches by police and family members.
Thirteen years on, Coroner Gordon Matenga has ruled that Mr Roberts is most likely dead after an inquest on September 12 last year and further investigations were undertaken.
Mr Roberts was last seen on November 30, 2004, driving his Fulton Hogan work van off the Kaimai Lookout. He had worked for several months on a Tauranga site.
In his ruling, Matenga said despite an extensive search by family members and police which included using cadaver dogs and creating a publicity campaign, Mr Roberts' body was never located.
On day two of the initial search, a Fulton Hogan vest was found with a strong inference it had been worn by Mr Roberts.
A pair of socks, boots and blue overalls marked "FH BOB' were also found beside a log during a Police Search and Rescue training weekend on July 9, 2015.
Matenga said he heard from nine witnesses and considered all statements made at the initial inquiry, police job sheets, and statements made by members of the public.
He was "satisfied" Mr Roberts survived the crash through a stonewall barrier at the lookout point and there was sufficient evidence he also did not die immediately after the crash.
"I am persuaded on the evidence that on balance, Mr Roberts did not make it out of the bush, but is deceased," he said.
In making his ruling Matenga said he was putting to one side the evidence of two of Mr Roberts' former colleagues who had come forward saying they had seen the 53-year-old years after he was reported missing.
Mr Matenga said the reported sightings could have been honest mistakes.
He said Mr Roberts' failure to contact his family was one of the reasons for his ruling.
"There can only be two alternatives. Either he has made it out of the bush and remains in hiding from his previous life, alive and well under an assumed identity. Or he did not make it out of the bush and has died," he said.
While the family wanted to believe Mr Roberts was still alive, they each accepted the likelihood that he is deceased," Mr Matenga said
"The Bob Roberts that they knew would not have completely abandoned contact with whanau ... accordingly, I find that Mr Roberts is missing presumed deceased."
The 13-year mystery of Mr Roberts' disappearance has haunted his family and close work colleagues, especially his 36-year-old son Lester Roberts.
Roberts junior earlier told the Bay of Plenty Times that he has always believed his father was alive and pleaded for him to come forward to end the family's anguish.
"I know he is still around somewhere," he said last year.
"In that search 13 years ago, it seemed like he just did not want to be found," the 36-year-old Te Puke man said.
Yesterday, he told the Bay of Plenty Times he had not yet seen the coroner's report and declined to comment until he had read it.