The police have named a kayaker missing off the coast of Whangamata in the Coromandel Peninsula.
He is Maurice Bede Philips, 24, a construction worker from Ngaruawahia.
Mr Philips was fishing with a friend when his kayak took on water and sank on Wednesday.
His friend managed to swim to a nearby island where he raised the alarm.
Emergency services were advised shortly before 6pm and the surf life saving club, the Coastguard and two aircraft searched for the him until 10.30pm.
Sergeant Vince Ranger says neither man had a life jacket on and they were wearing heavy clothing and boots.
He says the police dive squad has been looking for Mr Philips since midday on Thursday and will continue their search until dark.