Missing hunter Kevin Hayward is believed to have died after diving naked into a wintry river to wrestle a wild pig.
His father Doug Hayward has given up hope his 41-year-old son is alive. After examining GPS collars on his son's five dogs, he believed he tracked a pig to the river, stripped off on the bank of the Waikato River and plunged into the water to get the pig.
Hayward has officially been missing for six cold nights in rugged bush 50 kilometres west of Taupo.
Yesterday a police dive squad searched the Waikato River where Hayward's clothes were found on the riverbank by hunters from Tokoroa and Hamilton, as well as police LandSAR searchers.
Hayward, of Ohaupo, is an experienced pig hunter who knows the Waipapa forest area beside the Waikato River "like the back of his hand", his father said.
Hayward parked his ute at the Waipapa Dam powerhouse on Monday afternoon. Police were alerted on Tuesday when one of his five dogs was seen beside the ute at the car park.
"I hope we can find him, but I don't believe he's alive now. He had all his tracking gear. The dogs had obviously taken the pig into the river. He probably took his clothes off, jumped into the water and got into trouble. He is not very big and doesn't like the cold, but he is as fit as. The pig may have gorged him, he could have been caught in a bit of weed," Doug Hayward said.
He hoped his son's body would be found when the dive team resumed its search today.