Police have confirmed a body found in the sea off New Plymouth is one of three people who were swept away after a climbing accident at Paritutu Rock.
The body was found washed up with a safety helmet attached near the intake of the Contact Energy power station by an employee at 7am.
Spotswood College students Felipe Melo, 17, of Brazil, and Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye, 17, and Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits Education Centre instructor Bryce John Jourdain, 42, have been missing since August 8 when they were swept into the ocean near Paritutu.
Police Inspector Frank Grant confirmed the body was one of the missing three but would not say which one.
"It's just speculation at the moment as to who it is," he said.
"We won't know officially until we do a proper examination of clothing and things like that."
Taranaki police search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Andrew Ross said the formal identification process would begin today and the matter had been referred to the coroner.
Mr Ross said the body had been removed from the scene and taken to the mortuary at Taranaki Base Hospital.
"Usually the coroner wants identification via one of three primary identifiers," Mr Ross said.
"Visual is best but with the amount of time in the water that will be hard so we will be looking at finger prints, DNA and dental records."
After scaling back the search yesterday, Mr Ross said the search for the two bodies still missing would resume after lunch.
The alpine cliff rescue team will search the area around Paritutu, while shorelines searches will concentrate on the area between Back Beach and Kawaroa.
Aerial searches will be put off until the weather permits, Mr Ross said.
"My initial response was to fly it, but we normally fly with the doors opening during searches and with the weather the way it is we would have to shut the doors and wouldn't be able to see anything.
Mr Ross said the likelihood of finding the other two bodies increased with today's discovery.
- © Fairfax NZ News