An Air Force Orion has been sent to look for three fishermen missing in a small wooden boat off Kiribati for a week.

The Defence Force says its crew will arrive at Kiribati about lunchtime.

"Early this morning, the RNZAF 5 Squadron sent one of our P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft to Kiribati to search for three fishermen who have been missing at sea for a week," a spokesperson said.

"The men left Tarawa on 1 November on a 5m wooden fishing boat. Kiribati authorities conducted an aerial search for two days but with no success.

"The search area is about 3500km from New Zealand and our Orion is expected to get there just after 14.30 New Zealand time.


"The aircraft has a crew of 13 on board and once it reaches the search area can stay on station for up to three hours, with fuel and daylight being limiting factors."