Two distress calls from a yacht last night have resulted in a search and rescue effort in the Bay of Plenty.

Teams including a P3 Orion aircraft from Auckland will head back out this morning after two fruitless searches late last night.

A Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed the missing yacht left Whakatāne yesterday afternoon with two people on board. The pair had planned to head around the East Cape.

The vessel was a H28 blue yacht, she said.


The name of the yacht had been identified as Machana, however authorities were unsure of the spelling.

Coastguard units were being sent from Ōpōtiki and Waihou to search the area, while a Phillips Search and Rescue Trust Helicopter was being sent from the Tauranga base.

The Coastguard and Rescue Coordination Centre NZ received two mayday calls last night, one at 8pm and another shortly afterwards, from two different people on board a yacht somewhere in the region.

RCCNZ spokeswoman, Grace Loftus, told the Herald the first distress call was from a male who had what sounded like a French accent, she said, before a second mayday call came from a female voice on board the same vessel.

An Orion has joined the search. Photo / Brett Phibbs
An Orion has joined the search. Photo / Brett Phibbs

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The female sounded as if she had a European accent, Loftus said.

An initial radar search was carried out from Cape Runaway to Mayor Island before a second around Mercury Island to Gisborne.

Both missions had to be radar searches because of cloudy weather conditions in the area.


Loftus said search and rescue crews, including the Orion, are due to carry out another search - this time, a visual one - over the same areas this morning.

The search is being coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington.