The mother of missing 6-year-old Que Langdon - who believes she has been taken by her father Alan Langdon to avoid custody action - has hired a Child Recovery Services contractor to find them.
Mr Langdon and his daughter left Kawhia Harbour on a small catamaran in Waikato 11 days ago, bound for the Bay of Islands, and have not been heard from since.
Col Chapman, an Australian Child Recovery Services contractor, has been hired by Que's Swiss mother Ariane Wyler, who said she was desperate to be reunited with her daughter.
Mr Chapman told RNZ it was possible Mr Langdon was trying to make it back to Australia, and that concern is growing for the safety of Que.
Waikato harbourmaster Chris Bredenbeck saw the catamaran leave Kawhia at high tide when the weather was fine, although there had been high winds since.
The search was called off yesterday. Police said an aerial search failed to find any sign of the catamaran, and that while Mr Langdon was an experienced sailor, they had grave concerns for the welfare of the pair.
Sergeant Warren Shaw said it was not unusual for him to to head out and not be in contact.
It was the second time Ms Wyler had sought help from Mr Chapman, who described the matter as a complex international custody case, where boundaries were blurred by the family having been itinerant for several years.
He said Que was familiar with boats, having been raised on one.
Mr Chapman said they no longer believed Mr Langdon's voyage was an innocent sailing trip, but another attempt to take Que to elude the family court system.
He said the pair separated close to two years ago following the destruction of their boat in the cyclone that struck Vanuatu. Mr Langdon, an Australian citizen with family in New Zealand, was alleged to have taken Que to Australia. Mr Chapman said Ms Wyler's attempts to reach a custody agreement failed, and a legal process was started, but Mr Langdon fled to New Zealand with Que.
Mr Chapman said Ms Wyler then began court proceedings in New Zealand.
He said the lack of contact had now got to the stage of being highly unusual, even for an experienced sailor like Mr Langdon.
Mr Chapman said it was possible there had been a mishap at sea, or they were hiding somewhere in coastal New Zealand. He said if they were trying to cross the Tasman, they would have run out of water by now.
Maritime New Zealand has broadcast all-stations calls asking for sightings. The boat is described as a white catamaran, 6m in length and with the ID number T878 in large lettering on its sail.