A couple and two children using a jet ski in Tauranga's harbour have been rescued by local police and the Tauranga Coastguard this afternoon.

The man and woman had been giving the children, from the local marae, a ride on the jet ski and ski biscuit near the Maungatapu bridge when the machine died. It is believed the engine cut out.

A woman, who was a friend of the couple and waiting with her family on the beach on the Maungatapu side of the bridge, said they had been drifting out at sea for about 90 minutes.

The woman called for help, and police and the coastguard responded.

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The coastguard was now towing the party to shore.