The police have officially ended the search for a man who fell from a container ship near Lyttelton Harbour yesterday.
Senior Sergeant Craig Scott said police won't resume looking for the 52-year-old Filipino man was working on the ship, Medinah, when he slipped and fell into the sea.
A search by sea and air, at one point involving a helicopter and 16 boats, was suspended at about 5pm yesterday because of failing light.
Mr Scott said a lifebuoy was thrown to the man after he fell and he was last seen swimming towards it, but never reached it.
The water temperature was around 8°C and it was unlikely the man survived, he said.
"It's now been over 12 hours - well past 12 hours," he said.
Police hope his body will surface somewhere so it can be recovered.
Mr Scott says the case will be referred to the coroner and the Maritime Safety Authority.