Searchers looking for a woman presumed drowned in Hawke's Bay have found a body.

Police said divers looking for a woman missing at Haumoana Beach since yesterday found the body at 6.35am, shortly after resuming their search this morning.

A woman disappeared yesterday and was believed to have drowned at Haumoana Beach in Hawke's Bay trying to save a child.

The woman was the mother of at least one of two girls, reportedly aged 5 and 8, who were swimming at the mouth of the Clive River at Haumoana yesterday. It is believed one of the children got into difficulty and the woman went into the water to help her.

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The children were treated in hospital. They were discharged last night.

Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James said the body was found metres from the inlet spit where the woman went missing yesterday.

Searchers look for a woman who went missing after rescuing children in the Clive River estuary yesterday. Photo / Warren Buckland
Searchers look for a woman who went missing after rescuing children in the Clive River estuary yesterday. Photo / Warren Buckland

The body has yet to be identified and more details would be released this morning, a police spokeswoman said.

Police, and surf lifesaving teams scoured the area yesterday. James said the river bed dropped off at this point, with dense mud at the bottom.

The lower water levels and improved light conditions helped search teams find the body this morning.

Locals have began leaving flowers at the beach, with a rahui placed over the area last night by Haumoana local Ashley Ormsby out of respect for the woman.

She had placed signs around the inlet area advising people of the rahui - a restriction of access - last night, and was back at the scene this morning to let more people know about it.

"We've been swimming there for generations. It's very muddy and there's lots of rocks, so it can be slippery," she said of the inlet where the drowning happened.

"It's a mother's instinct."

Ms Ormsby said yesterday afternoon she had been comforting the best friend of the woman who drowned.

"We just brought her some blankets, asked if she wanted any food, she was very upset."

She understood both families were from Taupo, but that neither woman had realised the other was in Hawke's Bay until yesterday's incident.

The best friend's family camped in the area overnight, to assist with the search effort this morning, Ms Ormsby said.

The search began about 5.30am this morning, with the body found about an hour later.

Mr James thanked the local Haumoana community for their help - with members of the public offering use of their own quad bikes, paddle boards, and boats to use in the search for the woman.

"Everybody got behind it. Some really good community spirit came out of it."

He said search teams had really appreciated onlookers remaining on the road near the beach, allowing them to do their work without any obstructions.