The search for a missing teenager swept out to sea at Waihī Beach has entered its third day.

The boy was reportedly caught in a rip on Friday, with police advised at about 12.40pm that he had gotten into trouble near the Top 10 Holiday Park on Beach Rd.

He had been part of a group swimming in the area. Residents understand he is a boy of about 17 from the Hamilton area.

"Today's search will once again be assisted by Waihi Beach Lifeguards using inflatable rescue boats and jet skis," police said.

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Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter helps with the search at Waihi Beach. Photo / Supplied
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter helps with the search at Waihi Beach. Photo / Supplied

A Waihī Beach Surf Lifesaving Club representative earlier said on Friday lifeguards were in the water and "giving it their best effort".

Two Coastguard vessels had taken part in the search, along with the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, which carried out grid searches in the area, she said.

Police described Friday's sea conditions as rough and two local residents told the Bay of Plenty Times surf conditions were "quite gnarly".

The past three days have been a horror period in the water after four people drowned at Langs Beach and Baylys Beach in Northland, and the Police Dive Squad located a body from the Whanganui River yesterday.

This included a young boy's death yesterday after being snatched by a wave as he played in the surf at Napier.

Witnesses described the heroic efforts of two young police officers, who risked their lives in a desperate bid to reach the child.

The 9-year-old died at the scene after police received a report of a person struggling in the water off Marine Parade about 3.42pm.

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Rough conditions at Waihi Beach on Friday. Photo / George Novak
Rough conditions at Waihi Beach on Friday. Photo / George Novak

It is understood he was among a group who were swept out to sea from the water's edge.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said there had been 20 water fatalities this year, compared with 22 at the same time last year. The deaths were across a range of ages, activities and environments.

"Any waterway presents a hazard," he said.

With a diverse population and visitors unfamiliar with New Zealand waters, it was important for people to swim between the flags, Mills said.

Surf Life Saving NZ urged beachgoers to be extra vigilant this weekend, and throughout the rest of summer following an increase in serious incidents.

National lifesaving manager Allan Mundy said no one was stronger than a rip.

The message was simple: "Swim between the red and yellow flags and remember the 3Rs – relax and float, raise your hand and ride the rip."