Police believe it is unlikely a missing Southland boy and his step-father are in an underwater car wreck near Curio Bay in the Catlins.
Michael Zhao-Beckenridge, 11, has been missing for 18 days, along with John Beckenridge, 64, who is in breach of a parenting order.
Police are looking at options to recover Mr Beckenridge's luxury Volkswagen Touareg, which went off a cliff near Curio Bay into a rocky cove.
A police spokesperson said initial indications from police divers who viewed the wreck on Sunday were that there were no bodies inside.
He said there were a range of possibilities for how the car got into the water and for where the missing pair were.