Police say they have been unable to locate a body at Canterbury lifestyle block where a homicide investigation is underway.

Homicide police said yesterday that a body had been found at a rural property in Woodend, 20km north of Christchurch.

But this evening, the investigation at the farmhouse took another turn.

"Subsequent enquiries have failed to locate a body at this time," police said in a statement.

Advertisement

"However, evidence of a very serious assault has been found at the Jelfs Rd address."

A search of the property was ongoing, and police said they had serious concerns for the wellbeing of a man named Oliver Johnston.

An alert was earlier this evening, saying the police wanted to speak to anyone with information about the whereabouts of Johnston, who also goes by the name Oliver Greene.

Police said that they were investigating an assault on Johnston which took place last weekend.

Homicide police were speaking to people connected to the lifestyle block earlier today.

Acting Detective Inspector Mark Worner told the Herald this afternoon: "A number of people associated with the property are being spoken to as part of the ongoing inquiry."

A couple and their children are believed to live at the address. The owner of the property declined to comment when contacted by the Herald this morning.

A police command unit has been set up near the large farmhouse. Unmarked police cars are coming and going. Forensic officers will continue scene examinations at the property today.

Horses are in the front paddocks and across the road is Birchbrook Equestrian Centre.

Advertisement

Woodend Beach and its surrounds is a popular area for horse riders and trainers.
Locals are shocked by the homicide probe.

"They are a really nice family, well-involved in the community. It's just awful," one said.
Another reported having seen a lot of police activity down the quiet unpaved road on his way home from work last night.

"It's not what you expect to see. It kind of makes you feel sick," he said.