A member of a diving party says conditions were perfect for night-time diving when two men drowned.

Police are continuing to probe the deaths of the pair, who were free diving on Saturday night off Great Barrier Island when they disappeared.


The men who died freediving off Great Barrier Island


Police national dive squad members recovered the bodies of Igor Petrenko, 31, and Gena Sibaev, 55. It's believed they went missing while diving for crayfish off a boat.

Dan Thomas said he and Mr Petrenko had agreed to return to their boat after 30 minutes but Mr Petrenko didn't arrive.

In a Facebook post, Mr Thomas said: "We spotted his light in the water and after a min[ute] of watching it with no movement I dived in."

But he couldn't reach his friend and after a few minutes the diving party saw Mr Petrenko's torch drop to the sea-floor.

Thinking it might be dangerous, the rest of the group left the water.

"Police divers said that the rock which Igor was diving in had a suction current and pulled both divers under," Mr Thomas said.

"My thoughts, my love and my whole-hearted apology goes to the loved ones of both."

A police spokeswoman said the alarm was raised after a diver did not resurface, and a second diver who went to investigate also disappeared.