Three men and a woman were plucked from the Hokianga Harbour after their boat capsized while crossing the bar.

All four on the boat were wearing lifejackets and that, along with the fact one of them had a waterproof VHF radio so they could keep in contact with rescuers, is being credited with a successful rescue, with all returned to shore safely.

A coastguard spokesperson said the Hokianga Coastguard was alerted about 11.40am after the boat, believed to be an aluminum dinghy, capsized while crossing the bar at low tide, which had a two metre swell.

All four were in the water for some time while the Hokianga Coastguard volunteers responded.

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They were taken ashore at Opononi Wharf where a male and female were flown to Whangarei Hospital by the Northland Rescue Helicopter team.

She said the fact all four rescued were wearing lifejackets, and that one had a waterproof VHF radio, ensured that the rescue was successful and they were all brought to land safely.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night two fishing boat skippers went to the rescue of a man, believed to be a European tourist, who got himself stuck on a cliff at Tapotupotu.

He was cold and disoriented when he was found, but was reportedly "less than grateful" to have been rescued, according to Far North Radio and Sea Rescue senior volunteer radio operator Annette Hall.

The commercial fishing boats Hananui and Emerald Isle, and a charter boat, all from Mangonui, were anchored at Spirits Bay when, at 9.45pm, Hananui skipper Adam Thoresen was advised someone was flashing an SOS with a light from the beach at Tapotupotu.

Ms Hall said she notified the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, police and Land Search and Rescue, who were all placed on standby.

"It turned out to be a guy who had decided to abseil down a cliff and had got stuck," she said.

He was aboard the Hananui a little before 11pm.

However, for some reason that Ms Hall could not explain, he was subsequently transferred to the Emerald Isle, which left Spirits Bay to continue fishing, with the abseiler apparently being destined to remain on board until she next puts ashore.