The search for a missing swimmer at Piha was called off late last night, police say.

A police spokesman confirmed earlier this evening a man aged in his 20s disappeared near Lion Rock, and a second swimmer needed medical treatment from surf lifesavers in the incident just after 6pm.

St John Ambulance later confirmed the second swimmer had minor injuries and was not taken to hospital.

A land-based search was due to begin after 8am today, when low tide is expected, the police spokesman said.

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A Surf Life Saving spokeswoman said both swimmers were men and got into trouble after being caught in a rip.

"Public raised the alarm with lifeguards at 1750 hours on scene and an IRB was launched. Lifeguards from Piha Surf Life Saving Club and United North Piha lifeguard service were involved in the search.

"One person was rescued by Piha lifeguards upon arrival. One male in his mid twenties is still missing. The on-water search carried on for over an hour in extreme conditions."

Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the police Eagle helicopter, Northern Coastguard
were also involved in the search, along with five Inflatable Rescue Boats.

The aerial search ended at 9pm.

Rescue boats had earlier been stood down due to rough conditions and the glare on the water from the low sun, the police spokesman said.

"There are waves of up to 3m high."

Northern Coastguard tweeted earlier that Auckland Air Patrol were searching for the missing swimmer west of Lion Rock.

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There was a light southerly breeze and good visibility at the beach when the search began, but waves were 2.5 to 3m and the tide was going out.

Adey's Place staff member Shane Kraus said he had heard about the emergency and saw a helicopter "ages out to sea" searching.

But he could no longer see any helicopters searching as of 7.30pm.

Fine weather meant the beach was packed today, but conditions were "messy", Kraus said.

One person has been rescued and another is still missing after getting into trouble in the surf at Piha beach today. Photo / Supplied
One person has been rescued and another is still missing after getting into trouble in the surf at Piha beach today. Photo / Supplied

"The waves are breaking out pretty far and there's a lot of water moving around, a lot of rips."