The Rescue Co-ordination Centre, along with Western Bay of Plenty Police, have launched a search operation following the discovery of an unmanned yacht off the Bay of Plenty coast this morning.
The 38 foot, single-masted yacht, was located by a member of the public approximately 11 nautical miles east of Mayor Island in the Bay of Plenty.
Western Bay of Plenty Police Area Commander, Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair says an immediate search of the yacht determined that there was no-one on board. He says the motor was running and the yacht's anchor was dragging in the water.
"Police and the Rescue Co-ordination Centre were notified and an aerial and water search is underway."
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre has undertaken an aerial search today that has covered a 900 square kilometre area between Motiti and Mayor Islands. A sea search is also underway, involving Coastguard and a vessel that has been working on the Rena operation.
Inspector Wright-St Clair says Police believe the yacht, with one person on board, left Tauranga for Paihia on Sunday 12 February.
"We would urgently like to hear from anyone who may have seen the yacht since Sunday. Please contact Tauranga Police on 07 577 4300."