Police are yet to name the 17-year-old male found dead inside a ute which plunged into the Whanganui River in the early hours of Christmas day.

On Wednesday people gathered at the bridge to pay respects to the teenager, who is thought to have been the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Overnight on Christmas Eve the vehicle went off the City Bridge near Anzac Parade and was recovered by the police dive squad on Tuesday afternoon.

Temporary railing remains along the part of the bridge where the vehicle appears to have left the road while a rahui - a ban on fishing or using the river - imposed by local iwi as a mark of respect has been in place since Tuesday but it likely to be lifted today.


Police said it was unlikely to release more further information yesterday but were appealing to the public for information or to speak with anyone who witnessed the crash.

"Inquiries into the circumstances of the crash are ongoing," a statement said.

The teenager's death was the first in the 2018/2019 official holiday road toll.

An emergency services staffer at the scene on the day said it was "a sad start to Christmas".

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