By Sarah Robson
The homicide investigation into the death of 10-year-old Alex Fisher is expected to take some time, police say.
After three days of searching, the schoolboy's body was found on Thursday afternoon, near beachfront baches at Waitarere Beach, just northwest of Levin.
The area where Alex was found, which is close to a number of walkways through the sand dunes to the beach, has been cordoned off while a forensic examination takes place.
Two body bags – one large and one small - were removed from the area last night, along with a sledgehammer, Radio New Zealand is reporting.
The scene was cordoned off and police said they would begin forensic examinations today.
A post-mortem examination will also add to the evidence about Alex's death.
Alex's death is being treated as a homicide and a man appeared in Levin District Court this week in connection to the case, but details have been suppressed and police won't comment.
Inspector Sarah Stewart told reporters the focus is now piecing together what happened to Alex.
"There is now considerable work ahead of us as we begin a homicide investigation," she said.
"Our investigation is likely to take some time as we build up a picture of the events that have led to this tragic outcome."
She wouldn't go into any further details about Alex's death.
Police are still appealing for sightings of Alex and his brother Eric - either together or alone - in the days leading up to Alex's disappearance.
Alex was last seen with his older brother at the Waitarere Four Square on Monday evening. He was reported missing in the early hours of Tuesday.
NZN / 3 News