The family of missing teenager Vinnie Beecroft are thanking those involved in searching for him.
The 14-year-old disappeared after getting into trouble in the water at St Clair Beach in Dunedin on Thursday.
In a statement released by police, relative Kathy Peters says they wish to express gratitude to NZ Search and Rescue, police, Victim Support, Surf Life Saving and all others involved.
"Very special thoughts and thanks go to the young boys who were there with Vinnie at the time, their efforts were truly brave and heroic in their bid to help Vinnie when he got into difficulty at Seconds Cliff on Thursday afternoon.
"The boys had spent the afternoon having fun in and around the water, enjoying the day, when tragedy struck."
Peters said his immediate family have "endured a number of tragic events over the years and are trying to cope with the current situation as best they can".
Search officials said it's unlikely he survived.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of time that has passed, we are now searching for a body," Otago Coastal Search and Rescue coordinator Nathan Whitesaid told local paper The Star.
Peters says they still hold out hope Vinnie will be found, but acknowledge it is becoming increasingly unlikely.
"Again, thank you to all those involved and to the services and people that know Vinnie well and have supported him in the past. A heartfelt thank you is expressed for the ongoing support you are offering."