Navy divers will today join the search for a soldier missing on a North Island lake - but police say chances of finding him alive are fading.

The soldier, aged in his late 20s, fell overboard from an inflatable boat on Lake Moawhango, which is within the Waiouru training area, while he was returning from a training exercise.

Police divers searched for the soldier - whose name hasn't been released - but because of the depth of the lake they could only conduct a shallow search of the shoreline.

Last night, Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich said hopes of finding the soldier alive were fading given it was 24 hours since he was last seen. "Sadly, despite intensive searches conducted throughout the course of the day, we have not located this soldier," he said. The navy divers were expected in Waiouru last night. The initial search involved defence force personnel, police and the Square Trust Rescue Helicopter.


Mr Mastrovich said the navy divers were called because of their sonar equipment. The search is expected to resume at first light.

The soldier's next-of-kin have been informed but neither police nor the defence force would give his name.