Rescuers believe the bodies of two students and an instructor missing after a rock climbing accident may be in an area south of Paritutu.
Police say the search effort is now a recovery operation after yesterday's extensive aerial, sea and land search operation diminished all hopes of finding the trio alive.
Instructor Bryce Jourdain, along with Spotswood College students Stephen Lewis Kahukaka-Gedye and Joao Felipe Martins De Melo, both 17, failed to surface after falling into the Tasman Sea off the coast of New Plymouth during a rock-climbing expedition.
ONE News reporter Haydn Jones says the effort has been physically and emotionally exhausting for the rescuers, many of whom are New Plymouth locals.
Taranaki Rescue crewman Andy Cronin said conditions in the turbulent Tasman Sea are calmer compared with the last two days.
"We have a group going around to look around there and we have some rescue boats searching a wider area from the end of the main breakwater, south."
He said rescuers had spent the day above and in the water.
Inspector Frank Grant said today's search involved the shoreline, sea and air with help from the Alpine Cliff Rescue team.
He said every available resource has been used in the search, which will be scaled down over the weekend.
Taranaki gas and oil operator Shell Todd has funded a helicopter to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter with today's aerial search.
Reality sets in for students
Meanwhile the reality of losing friends is setting in for students of Spotswood College.
Student Kahukaka-Gedye was a New Plymouth local, while Melo was a Brazilian exchange student at the school.
Principal Mark Bowden told ONE News that Kahukaka-Gedye loved the outdoors and Melo fell in love with New Zealand during his exchange here.
Head boy Casey Davies-Hall told ONE News students are trying "to hang in there."
"It's the sort of thing you hear about on the news but you never really think it's going to happen to you," he said.
Students at the school have been spending time with a trauma team from the Ministry of Education and Victim Support as they come to terms with the situation.
"These kids are clearly working through significant tragedy,
dealing with significant loss. There are no scripts for grief,"
Mother calls for outdoor education licensing
The mother of a teenager lost in another outdoor education tragedy says she's got some tough questions for the Government.
Catherine Linnen lost her daughter Tara at Mangitopopo Gorge in 2008 when six students and a teacher from Elim Christian School died.
Linnen has been fighting for tougher regulation in outdoor education ever since but she told TV ONE's Close Up she doesn't think much has changed since her daughter's death.
"I know there were recommendations made, that outdoor centres should be licenced.
"I was under the impression this had happened, but I'm now given to believe it hasn't actually been actioned.
"I work as a teacher and I have to be registered, I have to pay to get a licence, if I don't have my practising licence and if that lapses for more than 10 days, I can't work," she says.
Linnen says she has written to the Prime Minister, local MPs and the Minister of Labour, but says she has had little in way of a reply.
"It's not good enough," she says.
"Our young people shouldn't be being exposed to unnecessary risks in the outdoors&we have to keep it under control."
The police investigation is now turning to how the rock-climbing adventure went wrong.
They have begun interviewing students and an instructor who were part of the expedition.
"Yesterday police continued speaking to witnesses as part of the investigation into the circumstances which led to Wednesday afternoon's tragic incident," said Grant.
"Our investigation is likely to take several weeks to complete."
Taranaki Outdoor Pursuit Education Centre (TOPEC) Board Chairman David Grigg said today that he has started an internal investigation into the incident.
"TOPEC is working to support our staff and community and will continue to respond to events as they unfold. We are working closely with the Police and Department of Labour as they commence their investigation.
"At this time, as search operations continue, our thoughts and prayers are with the missing and their families," Grigg said.
The search for the missing trio is being scaled down but will