Missing yacht Tafadzwa has been found drifting 60 nautical miles (110km) west of the Chatham Islands by a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion aircraft.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) spokesman Geoff Lunt said the yacht was spotted by the Orion on a training flight about 1.45pm today.

"Those on board the Orion have not been able to determine if the skipper of the yacht, Paul van Rensburg, is on board," Mr Lunt said.

The yacht's main sail and jib were up but were extensively damaged.

A fishing vessel in the vicinity had diverted to the yacht and was expecting to reach and board it about 7pm.

"However, this will depend on sea conditions. There is currently a 3m swell and light is fading. Any attempt to board the yacht will only be made if it can be done safely," Mr Lunt said.

The RCCNZ launched a search for Mr van Rensburg after he was reported overdue from a journey between Tauranga and Gisborne more than two weeks ago. It called off the search after three days, having covered 328,000 sq km.