A kayaker has drowned in the Waitaki River, near Kurow, north of Oamaru.

Police arrived at the scene after they were called around 4.50pm and immediately launched a rescue mission. They found the man's body in the river a short time later.

Emergency services are supporting the man's grieving family.

Kurow resident Sarah Rowland said she saw emergency services at the Waitaki bridges boat ramp on Kurow Island and a helicopter had been circling the area until it was dark.​