Two missing Northland brothers have been returned home safe and well this afternoon.

Police concerns were growing for the duo aged 9 and 11 after they had spent last night away from home and extensive police enquiries throughout today failed to find them.

Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said the brothers were spotted in Kawakawa about 2.30pm by a relative who identified them.

They were delivered home but police were only notified of their safe return about 4.15pm. It is believed they spent the night at a neighbouring property.

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An officer was going to the Karetu address to talk with the boys and their grandmother.

The boys Kyryn Hilton, aged 11, and 9-year-old Alexander Hilton were last seen at their grandparents' house at Karetu, 10km east of Kawakawa about 8pm yesterday.

Police were contacted about 8.45am today.

Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said earlier this afternoon the longer the boys were missing, the more concern for their safety grew.

"We would have expected them home by now. It's a possibility they are staying with someone or have gone into the bush."