Drenched, cold and covered in cuts and bruises - but alive.

That's how Ōmokoroa Boat Club members Steve Aldridge and Tim Raeburn found missing elderly man Kevin Lipinski, sitting on a log on the shore, about 11am on Sunday.

Lipinski's youngest son, Grant Lipinski, said on Monday his father was in good spirits in Tauranga Hospital recovering from some of the ill effects of his 17-hour "adventure".

Grant said the family were "very, very thankful and appreciative" for the emergency service staff and volunteers - and dozens of other people from Ōmokoroa and beyond - who joined the search for his father, who has Alzheimer's.


He said the family had started to fear the worst, knowing that some searches - such as that for Maketū grandfather John Kohi Mohi in February - did not end well.

When news arrived that his father had been found safe he felt "the greatest sense of relief", he said.

His father remembered bits and pieces of his ordeal. Grant believed his father ended up on the beach after becoming disoriented and unable to find his way to the Harbour View Rd home that he left about 6.30am.

"Normally he would knock on a door and ask for help but he felt it was late and people would be in bed and he didn't want to wake them."

Kevin Lipinsky was missing for about 17 hours. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Lipinsky was missing for about 17 hours. Photo / Supplied

Police pleaded for people to check their properties late on Saturday night.

Many people searched the streets in the rain into the wee hours of the morning.

Sea Scout leader Aldridge said when he learned of the search from his wife he checked his own property and the Scout den, then checked out a coastal pathway around the peninsula.

Realising the foreshore was not visible from the path, and fearing Lipinski may have fallen down the bank or walked down and become trapped by the tide, he decided to take a couple of the boat club's rigid inflatable boats and check the coast from the water.


Aldridge flagged his plan to search co-ordinators and found three other locals to help.

John Kemp and teen sailor Jack Towers took one boat south of the club's headquarters, while Aldridge and club commodore Tim Raeburn went north.

They set off about 10.30am, cruising along scanning the coastline.

Sea Scout leader Steve Aldridge was one of those who found Lipinski. Photo / George Novak
Sea Scout leader Steve Aldridge was one of those who found Lipinski. Photo / George Novak

Aldridge said they found Lipinski sitting on a log in an "alcove" in the bank created by a previous slip.

"When we got close enough to see it was him I phoned it in. There was a sense of palpable relief on the other end of the phone line."

He said the area around the log would have been completely flooded in the high tide the night before, and impossible to spot from the path above.

Raeburn said Lipinski was slumped over but responsive. He was drenched from the rain, tired, had no shoes and his legs were cut and bruised.

Raeburn carried him to the boat.

They brought him back to the club, where friend Matthew Farrell, who had been searching all night, met them with a blanket.

"It was a huge community response and we are lucky to have people like Steve and Tim among us," said Farrell.