Missing diver Robert Hewitt has been found alive after three days in the water.

The former Navy diver was spotted from the Police Launch Lady Elizabeth III shortly after 4pm today near Mana Island and pulled from the water.

He had spent more than 72 hours in the water. Officials said he was conscious, dehydrated and needing medical attention.

Family watched and wept as Robert Hewitt, was placed in a waiting ambulance at the Mana Cruising Club north of Wellington tonight.

His fiancee Rangi and youngest daughter hugged the police and navy divers who found the 38-year-old former navy diver in the water off Mana Island.Mr Hewitt went missing on Saturday and his All Black brother Norm Hewitt had said family accepted he would not be coming back.

On Monday he and his family had prayed for Tangaroa (the Maori god of the sea) to give his body back to them.

Mr Hewitt had been diving as part of a charter group of eight divers at the weekend when he took his last dive alone.

He told his companions he would take a compass bearing along the sea floor, 200m to the island. He was last seen at 1.10pm.

An air search for Mr Hewitt had been called off but this morning nine National Police dive squad members, four officers from the Wellington Police Maritime Unit and 12 Navy divers left Mana Cruising Club before 9am to continue the search.

Weather conditions deteriorated which meant they were unable to continue searching the area northwest of the island - the point where Mr Hewitt was last seen.

By midday they started searching an area known as The Bridge - a channel area running between Mana Island and the mainland.

Family friend Tawehi Munro said family had been praying at the marae in Titahi Bay, Porirua, for a miracle since Mr Hewitt had gone missing on Sunday afternoon.

"Its a miracle he's found and we are so happy," he said.

Mr Hewitt's brother, former All Black Norm Hewitt was also at the scene when Robert was brought in by the Lady Elizabeth III police launch at 5.15pm.