A 70-year-old diver has died in the sea south of Blenheim where he was gathering paua.
He went into the sea at 3pm on Sunday in ideal conditions but the weather rapidly deteriorated.
Police said there was a "phenomenal" rescue effort from the community around Ward Beach.
Two commercial divers searched the water, others scoured the coastline on foot and quad bikes, while some checked the beach with binoculars.
The man's body was eventually found 100m offshore by a rescue helicopter at 7.30pm.
The cause of death is being investigated by the coroner.