Great Barrier Island locals say they are "gutted" that a father and his teenage daughter have gone missing after failing to return during a fishing competition.
Police last night remained hopeful the local pair were not actually missing but just overdue, and were waiting to see if they showed up for the fishing competition weigh in.
The father, 42, and daughter, 17, were taking part in the Black Jug Fishing Haggle at Tipi and Bob's Waterfront Lodge, a yearly event described on the Great Barrier Island tourism website as the area's "quintessential open fishing competition".
The maritime unit yesterday searched for the pair's boat with no luck.
The Coastguard air patrol, a fixed-wing aircraft, will begin an air search around 7am today. The search would be weather dependent.
Last night the boat had not returned, after being reported overdue on Friday evening.
A police spokeswoman said their boat left Tryphena after the fishing competition and failed to make contact with friends or family who were expecting a call at 5pm Friday night.
"We were notified at 11.45am [Saturday] that a boat with two people on board was overdue," she said.
A staff member at the Carruch Irish Pub said he and the rest of the community were "gutted" the pair hadn't shown up.
"We're an island community, we're all part of a big family here," he said.
"This is something that affects us all."
He said it was a "nasty day to be out on a boat" yesterday. Senior Constable Kevin Stone with the Auckland Police Maritime Unit said the pair were not technically missing as of yesterday evening, only overdue.
"They're not technically in distress, they're just reported as overdue . . . they haven't put any distress or emergency call out on the vessel themselves.
"The guy, as I understand it, he's a pretty good mariner, he knows the area pretty well."
Stone said it was possible the pair had got their dates mixed up and not realised when they were due back for the end of the competition.
"We're just kind of waiting to see if they show up during the weigh-in period."
The unit went out to search for them in the afternoon, but it was like searching for a needle in a haystack, he said.
Senior Constable Peter Comer, who was also involved in the search, said they completed a search in the area they thought the pair might be, but could not search anymore while it was dark.
There was no aerial search, as the weather was too bad, he said.
A Tryphena resident said the weather has been "absolutely ghastly" yesterday. "They said it was going to blow at 55 knots ... it did it in gusts so you didn't even know it was coming, I would think."
Items had been knocked off the woman's veranda by the wind.
Metservice meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said conditions were rough and visibility had been poor for searchers.
Winds up to 110km/h along with rain and developing swells made for "fairly tough conditions out there".
"The swell is not especially large but the combination of strong winds and heavy rain will have reduced visibility and made the sea quite rough as well," he said.
The organisers of the fishing competition have declined to comment.