The body of a missing tramper in Hawke's Bay has been found 500m downstream from the swollen Makaroro River that he and his companion had attempted to cross.

High river levels and bad weather conditions on Monday evening meant the search in the Ruahine Forest Park had to be delayed until this morning.

The search resumed for the man at 6am, near the bottom of Gold Creek Ridge track in Ruahine Forest Park where it and the Sparrowhawk track meet the Makaroro River.

Eighteen Land Search and Rescue (SAR) staff were deployed in the field, as well as six more in communications and oversight functions.


Surf Life Saving provided an IRB and four people, while the rescue helicopter was also involved, along with a three-person drone crew from Fire and Emergency New Zealand and 10 police SAR staff.

Police said the body was located four hours later with assistance from the drone.

Napier Tramping Club President Kelvin Shaw said the river was
Napier Tramping Club President Kelvin Shaw said the river was "well flooded". Photo / Warren Buckland

Napier Tramping Club president Kelvin Shaw said the river, which was "well flooded" after Monday's heavy rainfall, would have been very difficult to cross.

"That river isn't very deep normally but is fast flowing at the best of times," he said.

"They wouldn't even be able to bind together to follow the principles of river crossing. It's very unfortunate, but it is a miracle that there aren't two people dead."

Heretaunga Tramping Club secretary Glenda Hooper said checks must be carried out before crossing any river.

"The Makaroro River at low flow is not a problem to trampers, provided you select your crossing spots," she said.

"But with the rainfall over the weekend it would have been at a much higher flow and it would be discoloured.


"If a river is flowing faster than a moderately fast walking pace, or if it is so discoloured that you cannot see the bottom, then you should not try to cross it."

New Zealand Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said the tragedy highlighted the dangers that can be encountered when crossing rivers.

"This is a timely reminder to us all that we need to familiarise ourselves with the key river safety considerations," he said.

Daisley said if you want to cross a river but don't feel comfortable doing so, then trust your judgment and "wait it out".

"It's much safer to spend a night on the riverbank waiting than it is to attempt a crossing."

A police spokeswoman said they offered their sympathies to the man's family and friends.

"Police would also like to thank both the LandSAR volunteers and Hawke's Bay surf life savers who assisted with the search," she said.