Campers saw unusual object floating in water hours before fisherman pulled body from Auckland's Gulf Harbour

Witnesses say they saw an unusual object floating in the water hours before a fisherman pulled a bag of human remains out of Auckland's Gulf Harbour. 

The grisly discovery was made on Tuesday at about 3pm.

Paul Middleton was in Whangaparaoa to do some fishing but ended up reeling the body wrapped in plastic bags to shore.

Hours before, a couple of freedom campers in the area told Newshub they saw the unusual object floating in the water.

"Bit of a shock. It's like, you know, what's happening in this quiet little place?" camper Ellie said.

"I was coming back and the flashing lights of a police car came along so I naturally wanted to know what was going on," camper Allen added.

They described a strong wind in the Gulf Harbour area a day earlier - that's when they first spotted the object in the water.

"Possibly things got blown into the area then. There were a few logs around and the plastic bag with the body in it was just floating off in the distance in the morning," Ellie said.

The circumstances surrounding the body remain a mystery.

But Middleton described the moment he pulled the bag up.

"At the time I thought maybe a log, maybe a dead animal or something," he told Newshub.

"Opened it up, big chunk of meat. Looked like a maybe a leg, like a leg of lamb type thing. That sort of thing. Big chunk of meat.

"I thought maybe someone's chucked their meat waste away… lo and behold a hand appears."

A post-mortem on the body has begun.

On Wednesday, two officers were seen checking the river that flows into the Gulf Harbour Marina, just north of Auckland.

Police said the priority was to identify the person and what led to their death, encouraging any residents on the nearby coast to get in touch if they saw anything suspicious.

Police assured there's no immediate risk to the public in relation to the death.