Whanganui teen Felix Newton will be remembered as a "beautiful person" with an "infectious smile".

The 17-year-old died after crashing his ute into the Whanganui River off Victoria Ave Bridge in the early hours of Christmas Day.

His father Mike Newton told the Herald Felix, a keen surfer, was going to be "dearly missed".

"What a beautiful person, respected by all and fearless in the water. He was one of the good guys.

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"We are going to miss you dearly in the surf, my son, I love you."

On Boxing Day, friends and family gathered at one of Felix's old stomping grounds - the North Mole on Morgan St - for a paddle out to pay tribute to their much-loved mate.

Wanganui Board Riders held a tribute paddle out on Boxing Day to remember their mate Felix Newton. Photo / Supplied
Wanganui Board Riders held a tribute paddle out on Boxing Day to remember their mate Felix Newton. Photo / Supplied

Geoff Ericsson from Wanganui Board Riders said there was a massive turnout as Newton was an all-round great guy.

"He was a grommet who had infectious smile and loved surfing and his local... he will be greatly missed," Ericsson said.

Since the tragic death, dozens have taken to social media writing tributes to their friend with a "cheeky smile".

"I'm sure you'll still get your wave quota up there... rest in love mate," one said.

Another person wrote: "May you surf the clouds away rest easy Fe Fe."

"Gonna miss you kid, awesome smile, cheeky grin," said another.

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A police spokesman said it appeared the teen was the only occupant of the car.

"Inquiries into the circumstances of the crash are ongoing."

Local iwi imposed a rahui on Tuesday morning after the tragedy, covering a ban on fishing and using the river. It was lifted in a short ceremony on Thursday morning.

Police would like anyone with information to step forward and get in touch.

Information can be passed on to Whanganui Police on 06 349 0600 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.