Coach's death ruled tragic accident

Paul Arber
Paul Arber
The death of a talented Australian tennis coach, who disappeared in Hamilton in early December and was later found drowned in the Waikato River, was accidental, a coroner has ruled.

Paul Arber was in Hamilton on December 7 with students for a series of tennis tournaments when he wandered away from the group while they went in search of dinner.

His disappearance sparked a five-day man hunt including a desperate plea for help from Mr Arber's Melbourne-based parents who flew to Hamilton to find the 38-year-old.

Coroner Wallace Bain said it appeared Mr Arber's drowning was a "tragic accidental death".

Toxicology reports showed Mr Arber did not have drugs or alcohol in his system but witnesses who encountered over the course of eight hours reported unusual behaviour.

That included telling people he "loved" them, that he wanted to "be one with nature".

He was spotted kneeling in the Waikato River about 4am on December 8 by a couple who told him the river was dangerous and he should get out.

They tried to help him find his accommodation and encouraged him onto the bridge before he returned to the water saying he wanted to be "cleansed".

His body was found on December 12 by a group of teenage rowers from Hamilton Girls' High School.

- Natalie Akoorie of the New Zealand Herald