The remaining crew of stricken yacht Platino have made it safely onboard container ship Southern Lily and are bound for New Zealand - but the dead crew member has been left on the sinking yacht.
It took almost four hours to transfer the three crew members from the stricken yacht to the large container ship, which was around 550km north of New Zealand.
The Air Force Orion aircraft oversaw the operation and is now resuming its search for a missing crew member, a 63-year-old man who is understood to have been swept away after the yacht sustained damage to its rigging yesterday morning. The search will be suspended when the aircraft returns to New Zealand tonight.
A rescue line was used to help get Platino's owners Tory and Brent McKeogh and friend Ross McKee safely on board around 3pm.
The Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) has confirmed Nick Saull's body, who was earlier killed by the boat's rigging, was left on board the abandoned yacht as the large 3 metre swells made it too difficult to transfer him over.
An EPIRB beacon was put on the yacht to aid in tracking its location.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator John Dickson says it was a difficult operation getting the three crew members onboard the container ship and praised the master and crew of the Southern Lily.
"It was not easy to get the three crew members from the yacht to the much larger ship in those sea conditions - they've done a tremendous job.
"We are obviously disappointed that it was not safe to transfer the body of the deceased crew member, but safety must come first. We will keep track of the position of the yacht."
The Southern Lily is expected to take two days to get back to Auckland.
Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand spokesman Steve Rendle told the Herald earlier today that it was an extremely stressful situation for the three crew involved.
The decision to abandon the multimillion dollar yacht was made this morning due to its deteriorating condition which included loss of steering and taking on water overnight. The intake of water had been managed by the pumps before it was abandoned.
The boat was en route to Fiji where the owners were planning to have a five month holiday before tragedy stuck.
All the members onboard were good friends and Platino had been built by Mr Saull, who was the director of Brin Wilson Boat Builders.