A body has been found in Tauranga Harbour inside a vehicle which appears to have crashed off the Maungatapu Bridge.

The Police National Dive Squad has located the vehicle believed to have left the Maungatapu Bridge on State Highway 29A near Tauranga on Saturday evening.

"The driver's body has also been located inside the vehicle," police said.

The road between Maungatapu and the Baypark roundabout remains closed, and will likely remain closed for a number of hours while the vehicle is recovered.


Diversions are in place and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Police would still like to hear from anyone who has information about this collision and they urge them to contact Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300.

Police dive squads were searching the harbour near the apparent crash site this morning.

Police and a crane at the scene of the crash on Maungatapu Bridge this morning. Photo / George Novak
Police and a crane at the scene of the crash on Maungatapu Bridge this morning. Photo / George Novak

A reporter at the scene said the dive squad was parked up in an inflatable boat close to Maungatapu Bridge. Behind the boat, a rope was connected to two orange buoys which appeared to mark an area of interest for the searchers.

The reporter said about midday, she saw police divers pull something from the water and take it to the Matapihi shoreline before continuing the search.

A large blue crane can be seen parked near the centre of the bridge. Police and firefighters are also standing on the bridge.

A Maungatapu couple told the Bay of Plenty Times they were at Baypark Speedway last night when the organisers announced the bridge was closed due to a crash.

The couple said the bridge was narrow and had little room for error.


Another Maungatapu resident said given the dive squad was involved in the search, he feared someone's family may shortly receive some sad news, but he hoped the driver managed to escape.

Police were told about 8pm last night that a railing along a section of the bridge was missing.