A 24-year-old Cambridge man is missing after he and a friend got into trouble while kayaking off the coast of Whangamata on Wednesday evening.
The pair had been fishing from their kayak when it took on water and sank, Sergeant Vince Ranger of Whangamata police said.
One managed to swim to a nearby island and raised the alarm with a group of fisherman, but the other has not been found.
Emergency services were called at 5.50pm and a helicopter, plane and several boats searched until dark for the man without success.
Ranger said the search would be reassessed on Thursday morning.