Search continues for missing tourist

Friends and family have gathered beside the Waikato River, downstream from Aratiatia Falls as the search continues for a 21-year-old Australian man believed drowned.

It is understood the man was in Taupo for an equestrian event being held at the National Equestrian Centre on Rapids Road.

It is believed he went for a swim with friends near a boat ramp where tourist jet boats are launched downstream from the centre, and several kilometres downstream from the Aratiatia Falls.

He was caught in the strong current and attempted to swim across to the other side of the river, but the current pushed him underwater.

A small group of family and friends were at the ramp but were not prepared to comment.

The man's parents were being briefed by Taupo police.

Jet boats are on the river searching for the man.

Rapids Jet manager Garry Stephen, whose company is helping with the search, said the river was treacherous to swim in.

"It's looks nice and calm but there are hundreds of eddies, strong currents and hidden logs underneath the surface which cannot been seen from the bank."

Several kilometres downstream from the where the man was last seen are the Fulljames Rapids, often used for kayaking and jet boats.

The Police Dive Squad arrived to join the search this morning.

The river was running at 160 cubic metres per second when the man disappeared.

The flow has been reduced this morning for the search to 50 cubic metres per second.

The Dominion Post