Police concerned for 'ill-equipped' search party

Police say they have concerns about inexperienced and ill-equipped family members taking part in the search for two men missing in thick bush in the central North Island.

Family and friends of the men have headed into the Kaimanawa Forest, but police say they would rather whanau leave the search to the experts.

Pushing through dense Manuka trees and tangled undergrowth, specialist searchers have spent the last few days scouring the land for clues.

"We have to be extra careful, extra slow and extra vigilant," Waihi Land Search and Rescue volunteer Dave Jack says.

"We'll be looking to our left and right and we are going to have to make sure our search colleagues are not too far away."

There's only a couple of metres of visibility in the bush. For the uninitiated, it makes for treacherous conditions.

Thirteen New Zealand Defence Force soldiers from Waiouru have joined the search - which is now into its fifth day.

Land Search and Rescue volunteers from around the north island will be doing what's called a 'grid search' - which is time consuming and meticulous work.

Vincent Taurima is one of those missing. His father, Tony Taurima, has revealed that the last time they spoke before his son's phone went lost battery, he was trying to comfort his friend who had injured himself and was getting cold.

"The other guy had an accident and had a cut on his head," Mr Taurima says.

"He was unconscious for a little while. He's gone out of his way to take his clothing off to give to him to keep warm."

Whanau and friends have turned up in big numbers, determined to bring the men home - which is concerning for police.

"The last thing I need is at 5pm this evening a report that two or three are missing and we have to start searching for them, after we've had searchers in the bush all day. So no, it's not advisable," Bay Of Plenty operations manager Inspector Kevin Taylor says.

But family say they won't be giving up and will keep looking.

"There's a vast area out there to search. Sometimes we don't get out of there till 3am... 1am," Mr Taurima says.

Police have found a gas canister, and the remnants of campfire, but most worryingly, two piles of wet clothing including shirts, socks and shoes.

"The likelihood of them coming out alive is minimal to none," Insp Taylor says.

No one is giving up yet, but in the unforgiving environment, police say they must be realistic.