Body found after fishermen swept away

A body has washed up on a Northland beach near to where a fisherman went missing on Saturday.

Three fishermen were swept out to sea while net fishing off Waikara Beach about 50km north of Dargaville.

One man eventually drifted to shore and was flown to Whangarei Hospital but one of his fishing partners was found dead, his body washed up on the beach.

The third man was missing and presumed drowned.

Police confirmed a body had been found on a beach north of Dargaville this afternoon.

The body has yet to be identified, Police northern communications shift inspector Steve Kose said. Search and Rescue were at the scene.

Police earlier confirmed the two men who failed to make it back to shore were aged 17 and 27, but did not say how old the survivor was.

A member of the public alerted emergency services after seeing the three men got into trouble in the rough seas on Saturday.

The tumultuous conditions made it difficult for Coastguard's vessel to reach the struggling trio during the weekend rescue operation.

The men involved were locals, police said.

Fran Farrant, owner of nearby Waipoua Lodge, described the rugged coastline as "really, really dangerous".

"You can be walking on the beach and the waves will be way out, and suddenly they're round your legs, " Farrant said on Saturday.

"Today up here it's windy and raining so the sea would be pretty awful."

Another local, Phil Godfrey, said Waikara Beach was a popular fishing spot because it cut away  deep off the beach.

In his 21 years living in the area he had heard of multiple drownings and said the sea was notoriously unpredictable either side of Maunganui Bluff.