Police say a successful outcome is becoming less likely in a search of dense bush in Tongariro National Park for two young men believed to have fled from officers in a stolen car on Saturday.
New Zealand forest (File picture).
Today search teams have found an area where a fire had recently been lit and also some clothing however nothing further has been located.
"The longer these young men are out there ill-prepared in a bush environment with adverse weather conditions the less likely it is there will be a successful outcome,” said Bay of Plenty Operations Manager, Inspector Kevin Taylor.
Police say they attempted to stop the stolen car around 3pm on Saturday, before the driver fled at speed north on the Desert Road.
The car was eventually abandoned on a track off Tree Trunk Gorge Road, off the Desert Road, but there's been no sign of the two occupants, aged in their twenties.
Police said this afternoon the men are believed to be missing at the far eastern edge of the Tongariro National Park, after the search area was previously reported as the Kaimanawa Forest.
Five search teams, including two search and rescue dogs, have been searching the forest area today continuing on from the search which started on Sunday.
While searchers were able to make voice contact with the missing pair yesterday afternoon, it was only for a short time and the pair then stopped responding making it impossible for the searchers to find them, police said.
The search will continue today until it is too dark and then the situation will be reassessed, police said, adding that the search area is in very dense bush which is very hard to push through.
While a helicopter has been on stand-by it has been unable to assist with the search due to the weather conditions.