A young man has died and another is missing after a group of swimmers got into difficulty in the surf at a beach near Gisborne.
The three men, thought to be their twenties, went swimming at the popular Makorori Beach this morning but soon found themselves in trouble.
Rescuers said that by the time they got to the beach one of the men had managed to swim back safely.
They recovered the body of his friend from the water near the shore shortly afterwards.
Police Eastern District Command Centre Senior Sergeant Clint Adamson said search crews, including a rescue helicopter, surf lifesavers and the Coastguard, were searching for the missing man.
The men had been swimming about half-way along the beach between Makorori Point and a nearby housing settlement.
"When the three men got into trouble the surf was running at about a metre," a witness said.
Another witness said the men had been at the beach fishing. "They had their longlines out and decided to go for a swim.
"The current and undertows on that section of the beach are quite dangerous at present."
It is believed the men were staying at a camp ground nearby.
Police said they were still in the process of contacting the men's families.
A boat involved in the Bay Bonanza fishing competition had also joined the search and three others were on stand-by.
- Additional reporting by The Gisborne Herald