A BODY of a man believed to have drowned after he dived into the Tweed River from a houseboat on New Year's Day was recovered by police and rescuers in several metres of water just off Ukerabagh Island yesterday afternoon.
The 25-year-old New Zealander from Brisbane was enjoying New Year's Day celebrations with friends on the houseboat when a dinghy came loose and he jumped into the river to try and retrieve it.
Friends told police the man did not resurface from the water near the Terranora Inlet junction with the river between Greenbank and Ukerabagh Islands.
A full-scale search on Saturday afternoon and yesterday morning involving police, the Westpac Rescue helicopter and volunteers from local surf lifesaving clubs, Kingscliff Coastguard, SES and Point Danger VMR had failed to locate the man's body.
But yesterday at about 1.45pm a local man snorkelling off Ukerabagh Island made the gruesome discovery when he swam over the body which was lying at the bottom in about four metres of water.
The man, according to his wife, came out of the water in shock and was dry-retching.
The couple then called police on their mobile.
One of the first police officers on the scene borrowed a snorkel, mask and flippers from the couple and dived in to try and relocate the body.
The officer found the body about 10 minutes later and secured it so it would not be swept away by the current.
It was then taken by SES boat and crew to a waiting contractor across the river near The Anchorage estate.
Tweed-Byron Police's Acting Inspector Josh Burton said the man's name would not be released until relatives in New Zealand had been notified.
Inspector Burton said that though the body had not been positively identified, it was likely to be that of the missing man, given the description they had of him.