New Zealand police in search of missing Irish toddler Aisling Symes have discovered a body near the location where she disappeared.

A search crew who spent two hours digging behind a property just a few hundred meters from where the two-year-old went missing last week located a body of a child in a drain.

Inspector Gary Davey, with tears in his eyes, said it was with “tremendous sadness” that police have indeed uncovered the remains of a young child, though he said it was too early to confirm if it was Aisling, and “too early to know how the child got there or indeed, how long she had been there."

The area has now been cordoned off and has been named a crime scene.

Aisling, the daughter of Alan Symes of Stradbally, County Waterford, was playing with her five-year-old sister Caitlin in the Auckland suburb of Henderson when she went missing.

Up to 60 police officers have been involved in the week-long desperate search for the two-year-old. Friends of Aisling’s parents, Alan and Angela, have reportedly been praying for the child’s safe return at their place of worship, Ranui Baptist Church, every day.

"We're really stressed and grieving. We don't understand how this could have happened,” Alan Symes has said.

"No sleep. It's been like we're barely existing, surviving every moment not knowing where Aisling is.”