10 Dec 2013

Search for coach focuses on river

8:23 pm on 10 December 2013

A missing Australian tennis coach was last seen swimming in the Waikato River and had been acting out of character the night he disappeared, police say.

Paul Arber, 38, was in charge of a group of children attending a tennis tournament in Hamilton when he was reported missing on Saturday night.

Paul Arber.

Paul Arber. Photo: NZ POLICE

A man police believe was Mr Arber was seen swimming in the North Island river by a pair of passers-by about 4am on Sunday.

Police say the pair got him out of the water and offered to take him back to his accommodation. However, the man changed his mind, left them at the Victoria Bridge and walked back towards the river.

The officer in charge of the search, Detective Inspector Karl Thornton, said on Tuesday that is where the search has been focused.

Mr Thornton said police will continue to search the river and its banks by boat and a helicopter from Auckland has also been called in to help.

Friends and family have described Mr Arber as distant and spiritual of late, and his parents have flown to Hamilton from Australia to help look for him.

Meanwhile, a wallet and keys belonging to him have been found on Cook Street, and his luggage and passport have been retrieved from where he was staying, police said.

Paul Arber is described as slightly built and 179 centimetres tall, with short dark hair. He had been wearing a grey tracksuit with a tennis logo on the left side of the top.

A body has been recovered from the Waikato River.

A body has been recovered from the Waikato River. Photo: NZ POLICE