Police divers have located the capsized, sunken boat belonging to two men found dead yesterday after a fishing trip off Waitarere Beach went wrong.

The bodies of the Levin men were picked up by helicopter. They were Steven Michael Militch, 55, and Billy Tane Apiata, 51. Both were wearing lifejackets.

The Search and Rescue team found the men's boat, shortly before it sank.

"The sonar picked up an object at about 27 metres depth," Sergeant Bill Nicholson said last night.

It was too early to say what had caused the men's deaths and Maritime New Zealand was investigating.

The pair set out on their trip in a 4.2m aluminium boat about 9.30am on Monday. About 9.30pm, police were told a vehicle and a boat trailer had been noticed on the beach about 2.5km south of Waitarere township.

Police checked with family of the vehicle's owner and found out the men were overdue from a fishing trip. The missing boat was found at 1.32am yesterday about 4.5km off the coast by Hokio Beach, 10km northwest of Levin.

"The vessel was located with the tip of its bow protruding from the water and later sunk," Mr Nicholson said.

At 2.12am, the body of one of the men was found by the Iroquois helicopter, and at 2.33am the second body was found.

- NZPA