Five high school cavers missing after a two-night trip in Motueka have been found and a male teacher has been flown to hospital.

Searchers went into the cave overnight and found the three Year 13 students and two teachers, from Golden Bay High School, this morning. All were experienced cavers.

School principal Linda Tame said the group went into the caves on Saturday and were expected to return last night.

"I understand [the lead teacher] had a strained back so they followed protocol and decided to stay put. Better to be safe than sorry."


Tame said the group had plenty of supplies to spend the night underground and were all well equipped to handle the situation.

"They were all experienced cavers and [the teacher] was able to walk out this morning so it was all under control."

The party spent the night at an underground camp known as Salvation Hall in Nettlebed Cave.

Police were called shortly after 9.30pm to co-ordinate the rescue when the group was reported overdue.

Police said the rescue group, which included local volunteers, walked about two hours to reach the cave entrance and a further 2.4km journey through the caves before they reached the group.

The group's supervisor reportedly has moderate injuries and was treated in the cave before being taken out.