The body of a man has been found, hours after he was swept away at the Motu rivermouth near Whakatane today.

Police said the 41-year-old local had been fishing with friends, and disappeared while attempting to cross the rivermouth. His companions are all safe.

A search began about 3.50pm and was called off for the night three hours later.

At approximately 8.30pm the man's relatives found his body, police said.


He had come ashore about 150 metres from the point of the river where he had gone missing.

Police confirmed the man was aged 41, not 25 as previously reported.

He will not be publicly identified until all next of kin have been notified.

Police have issued a reminder about the dangers posed by the country's waterways. A combination of rain and tropical weather means river levels and the sea surf are dangerously high. Anyone enjoying activities on our waterways is urged to take every precaution and make sure they are wearing life jackets, a police statement said.

Three drownings made the Christmas holiday period - which began at 4pm on Christmas Eve and finished at 6am on Thursday - the lowest toll in six years.

Hamilton man Jason Anthony Johns, 43, drowned at Whiritoa Beach in the Coromandel on Christmas Eve while swimming about 600 metres outside the flags.

Robert Farquhar, 29, died while he was diving at Matakatia Bay in Whangaparaoa on December 29.

Oscar-winning sound editor Michael Alexander Hopkins drowned while rafting Wairarapa's flooded Waiohine River on December 30. His wife and another man in the raft survived.


There was an average of 10 drownings during the past five Christmas periods.
A 27-year-old man drowned at Himatangi Beach on Saturday.

Jarrett Simeon, of Feilding, is believed to have been swimming outside the flagged area when he drifted away from a group of friends.

Police found his body about 100 meters from the Himatangi Surf Life Saving Club yesterday.

- APNZ/NZ Herald