The container ship Southern Lily has tried unsuccessfully to rescue three crew members on board the stricken yacht Platino.
The ship's owner, Pacific Direct, says the crew is working in three-metre swells and 25-knot winds trying to get alongside the yacht for a second time.
The Platino has lost its steering and taken on water.
"[The crew are] coping very well under the circumstances," search and rescue mission coordinator John Dixon says.
One of the yacht's crewmen was lost overboard and another died on Monday when the Platino was hit with extreme sea conditions and winds up to 75km/h, around 550 kilometres north of New Zealand.
The Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) was alerted at 11:20am yesterday, and an Air Force P3 Orion was sent to look for the man who fell overboard.
The man, aged in his 60s, is believed to have fallen overboard after being hit by the boom in high winds. This later caused the rigging on the 20-metre yacht to collapse.
A commercial fishing vessel also headed to the area, but had to turn back because of the dangerous conditions.
The three people on board the yacht have kept in contact with family members via satellite phone. The body of the deceased crew member is still on board the yacht.
The Orion is flying above the yacht during the rescue attempt, and will then resume searching an area of about 765 square kilometres.