Rescue helicopters embarked on a search for what could be a dead body in the water near Gisborne.
A Maritime NZ spokesperson said a passenger aboard the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship reported seeing a dead body in the water, which is when the search began.
The operation took place 46km off the coast, with search and rescue helicopters scanning the area.
However, after being unable to find anything the search was called off due to low fuel.
The search is unlikely to resume tomorrow morning, Maritime NZ said.
Police say they were notified of the sighting but weren't on the ground.