A search has resumed this morning for a man who went overboard on a visiting cruise ship in the Hawke's Bay region.

The passenger was on the Norwegian Jewel when he went missing near the Mahia Peninsula about 7pm yesterday.

The Norwegian Cruise Line has since released a statement this morning saying the man, a 62-year-old Australian national, had deliberately jumped overboard while sailing from Napier.

The statement sited witness accounts and CCTV footage taken from cameras on the ship.

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"Unfortunately, the guest has not been found. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual's family during this difficult time."

It is unknown whether the man had been on the cruise with anyone else or had been travelling alone.

The cruise line statement said due to the search taking place, today's call to Tauranga had been cancelled.

A container ship used its powerful lights on the water to aid the search last night, but to no avail.

This cruise ship tracker shows the path of the Norwegian Jewel, which turned around and did a number of passes where the passenger was believed to have gone overboard. Image / Cruisin.me
This cruise ship tracker shows the path of the Norwegian Jewel, which turned around and did a number of passes where the passenger was believed to have gone overboard. Image / Cruisin.me

This morning, the Napier Coastguard and the Eastland Rescue Trust helicopter service are involved in the search.

Overnight, two container ships, an Air Force helicopter and two yachts searched for the man.

Maritime NZ Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesperson Vince Cholewa said since then the weather had deteriorated.


"There is now about a 20 knot - 37km/h - wind, and choppy seas," he said.

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A Coastguard unit from Napier arrived in the area about 6am today and a helicopter from the Eastland Rescue Trust arrived about 6.30am.

"They will search today for as long as possible," Cholewa said.

The Norwegian Jewel is bound for Auckland and will be met by law enforcement when it arrives. It has reached Gisborne waters by about 7.30am.

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Passengers on board had been checked and authorities had reviewed CCTV footage to confirm that someone had gone overboard, Cholewa said.

"When the cruise ship arrives in Auckland, it will be met by police and Maritime officers...who will make inquiries."

The ship can carry up to 2376 passengers and is 965 feet (294m) long, according to information on the Norwegian Cruise Line website.

An Air Force NH90 helicopter was called in from Ohakea yesterday and continued the search overnight using sophisticated heat-sensing equipment.