An Air Force plane is on its way back to New Zealand after a fruitless search for a catamaran in distress near Samoa.
The search and rescue effort was sparked by an emergency locator beacon being set off - but rescuers now think someone probably thew their beacon away and it went off by mistake.
"We are confident there is no one in distress," a spokeswoman for Maritime NZ told the Herald.
The NZ Defence Force tweeted this morning that an Orion aircraft had left its Auckland base around 6am to look for a 30ft catamaran, after it set off a locator beacon near Apia, Samoa's capital.
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The beacon had been activated 23 nautical miles north east of Apia. The catamaran was thought to be able to carry four people.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand had requested assistance from the Air Force after the beacon went off overnight, a Maritime NZ spokeswoman said. The first alert came in at 1.20am, and another at 9.02am.
The Orion has a full search and rescue kit on board and arrived in the vicinity of the vessel mid-morning, according to the NZDF.
But a Maritime NZ spokeswoman said the Orion had completed an hour-long visual search over an area five nautical miles from where the beacon was last active and was confident nobody was in distress.
"We think someone has discarded their beacon into the ocean," she said - most likely because its battery had gone flat.
Maritime NZ asked that people register their personal locator beacon so RCCNZ could call to check if everyone was OK if it was set off, and let RCCNZ know if they planned to dispose of the beacon, she said.
Beacons could be set off in a number of ways after being disposed of - such as hitting a rock in the ocean, or being activated in a rubbish dump after being binned.
The RCCNZ coordinates major maritime search and rescue operations across a vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean, including off Samoa.