An elderly man has been found dead in Whangamata after a frantic search hampered by heavy rain.
Colin Walter Hodges, 78, was found face-down in the estuary below Waireka Place, Moana Point, yesterday afternoon by police Search and Rescue teams.
Mr Hodges went missing from his Isabel St home about 8.30pm on Tuesday. He was last seen wearing a dark green dressing gown, blue and white pyjamas and ginger and white slippers.
Whangamata Sergeant Vince Ranger said it was unlikely Mr Hodges survived the night.
"It's been very wet and it's constant [rain]," he said
"It's always difficult to search in the rain. It's another part of the environment we have to overcome."
A MetService spokesperson said temperatures dropped to about 12C in Whangamata on Tuesday night. At the nearest weather station, in Kopu East, 24mls of rain had fallen from 6pm Tuesday to 6pm yesterday.
Mr Hodges, who has lived in Whangamata for 15 years, was officially reported missing about 9am yesterday. Police began searching for Mr Hodges about 9.15am.
About 40 Search and Rescue police and volunteers from Whangamata, Tairua and Pauanui were involved in the seven-and-a half-hour search.
Searchers faced heavy rain and wet conditions during the search, which included scouring the banks of the upper harbour and going door to door in the area, talking to neighbours and residents.
Mr Hodges' body was found about 4.30pm in the harbour.
"These things are always tragic when they happen and it's a difficult time for the family and a difficult time for the Search and Rescue volunteers as well," Mr Ranger said.
"We really feel for the family at this difficult time."
Isabel St resident Ian Simpson said Mr Hodges was a good neighbour and they would say hello to one another from their nearby properties.
He said Mr Hodges enjoyed playing bowls and seemed to be quite social.
Mr Hodges is survived by his wife and two adult children.
with Lesley Staniland