The New Zealand Defence Force has paid tribute to one of its soldiers killed in a crash near Masterton.

Gunner Andrew Ian Rance, 21, originally from Gore, had not been seen since about midnight on Saturday after attending a wedding on the outskirts of the Wairarapa town.

Police and family became concerned when he failed to return to the Linton Military Camp where he was based.

Rance and his missing black BMW car were eventually spotted by a member of the public on Te Whiti Rd, Homebush, near Masterton, on Tuesday afternoon.

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His car was in a culvert and his body lay nearby.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force today said Rance was a medalled soldier of the 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA).

"He enlisted into the New Zealand Army in August 2015 and was based at Linton Military Camp.

"He was awarded the NZ Defence Service Medal Regular Force Clasp on 04 August 2018."

Rance was described as "passionate field soldier" [who] had conducted numerous exercises including working with 5th ANGLICO, United States Marine Corp, in Alaska".

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time."

The New Zealand Army's Chief of Army Major General John Boswell also paid tribute to Rance.

"After completing basic training he was posted to 161 Battery in Linton Military Camp. During his time at 161 Battery Andrew completed multiple trade courses and was employed in Joint Fires Teams, on Weapon Detachments, in Reconnaissance Troop, and most recently as the LAV driver for a Joint Fires Team."

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He also offered his condolences to Rance's family and friends.

A police spokeswoman said inquiries into the cause of the crash were continuing.