A search is under way for two pāua snorkellers off the Wairarapa coast.

Sergeant Anthony Matheson said the pair failed to return to shore near Mataikona in the northern Wairarapa today.

Police were called about 11.30am.

The initial search included the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Amalgamated Helicopters, the Lady Elizabeth IV launch, three commercial fishing boats, the Riversdale Surf Life Saving Club, and a large number of private fishing vessels that had been part of a fishing competition.

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"We have the Lady Elizabeth and one helicopter still searching," a police spokesperson said.

"They will stay out there until it gets dark and we will recommence in the morning if we are not successful."

Riversdale Surf Life Saving club captain Mike Taylor said they were called to search around the rocks and and two regional guards in an inflatable rescue boat (IRB) scoured the area until about 5.50pm.