A major search operation continues off the Wairarapa coast this morning for a missing diver.

The man was one of three divers who got into difficulty around lunchtime yesterday at Flat Point Beach.

Wairarapa Police Sergeant Peter Rix said a helicopter began an aerial search at 6.30am.

A local fishing boat was also on the water with a naval vessel, the HMNZS Otago and her rigid hulled inflatable boat.

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Rix said the area was remote and a southerly was forecast.

Yesterday the Wellington Police Maritime Unit's launch was forced to turn back after the sea and weather conditions deteriorated.