A group of people fishing with a 17-year-old Te Awamutu man who was swept off rocks at the weekend desperately ran to grab a buoy for him to cling to but when they returned with it he had already disappeared.

Friends and family members are tonight still holding on to every little bit of hope they had that the popular teen with so much promise would be found safe and sound.

The teen was fishing with three others including family members when he was washed into the sea from where he was standing at Papanui Point near Ruapuke on Saturday at about 1.30pm.

Police Senior Sergeant Vince Ranger said the group the teen was with ran to grab two 20 litre drums that had been tied together to use as a floatation device once he was swept in.


But by the time they returned, he had disappeared.

"They went and grabbed them, but by the time they got there the missing person had gone."

Raglan locals have expressed frustration that safety equipment such as a ring and rope kept disappearing and said they had given up. Ranger confirmed these were not at the point yesterday either.

A close friend, who did not want to be named, told the Herald he was still in shock over the disappearance of his much-loved mate.

"He really deserved the world and had such a bright future ahead of him and always made sure all his mates were living a happy life."

"... there's still hope, and I'm holding onto every little bit of it."

A relative said last night the family was also still holding onto hope and hoped to at least recover his body.

The teen was schooled in Te Awamutu before leaving last year.

A search team of about 16 people from the police search and rescue team, Coastguard Air Patrol and the Raglan Surf Club scoured land, air and sea spent almost five hours searching on and around the shoreline of Papanui Point on Sunday.

The search covered 8sq nautical miles (about 27sq km) from Ruapuke Beach north to Woody Head.

The swell was slightly higher than yesterday afternoon where swells were more than 3m high crashing over the rocks when Ranger arrived about an hour after the teen disappeared.

Ranger said the swells and tides were also limiting when they could search.

"The higher likelihood for us is that he will be found from mid-tide to mid-tide over the low-tide period."

The search was expected to resume about midday on Monday depending on the tide and weather conditions, which would dictate what resources they used to search the shoreline again.

"We are certainly looking at going out there tomorrow but it's all dependent on what the weather does."

Ranger said Papanui Point was a notorious spot, but Police needed to finish talking to the people who were there and establish what happened before making any safety messages.

Raglan Sport Fishing Club Secretary Sheryl Hart said it was a deadly spot and warned that people who were not fully aware of the dangers should not go there.

Waikato District Council Raglan ward councillor Lisa Thomson said Papanui Point was a popular fishing point that was probably being used more than ever given the increase of people coming to Raglan and surrounding areas.

Thomson did not think banning people from spots such as that was the answer and said it would unlikely get the support of local fisherman who liked it due to its direct access to the sea as it would also see the end to some conservation projects happening there.

'On the West Coast you have to so careful ... It is a really vulnerable spot and I remember fishing with my father further down on the rocks closer to Aotea and we were always really careful never to turn our backs on the water.

"As locals we know you have to be really careful ... Always when you are by the sea on the West Coast you always have to be some mindful of the conditions and if you're not you can be caught so easy unawares - anyone."

Water Safety NZ chief executive Jonty Mills said rock fishing was growing in popularity and the great fishing spots were often found along the rugged coastline where the water could be unpredictable and unforgiving.

He urged fisherman to take note of any signs and check with locals and the marine forecast, fish with friends and to wear a life jacket.

"You're far more likely to survive in the water if you're wearing one than not."

Mills said it was unrealistic to restrict access to all potentially dangerous waterways and instead people needed to take personal responsibility and make wise decisions.

"People need to be aware of local conditions and have the experience and fish within their limits."

In September last year Hamilton fisherman Doyle Frickey died after being swept away at Ruapuke Rocks.

The 67-year-old's body was found more than a month later washed on to rocks on Stony Beach at Papanui Point.