A man who was reported missing after he was seen swimming off Kaiti Beach in Gisborne last night saw the search helicopter, but didn't realise it was looking for him.
Aerial, sea and land searches were launched after the man went into the water at about 9.45pm last night and was not seen returning to shore.
The search continued until 1am this morning and resumed at first light today.
But police said the man was out swimming for more than 90 minutes before coming back to shore and didn't get back home until after 11:30pm.
He saw the helicopter last night, but didn't realise it was looking for him.
The man contacted police after he heard about the search effort this evening.
Police want to thank Surf Life Saving, Coast Guard and NZLandSAR volunteers for their assistance.