Great Barrier sailor fleeing tsunami runs aground

A sailor trying to save his yacht from a potential tsunami has run aground off Great Barrier Island.

"Unfortunately a gentleman heard the tsunami warning for New Zealand and took his yacht out to sea from a congested harbour on Great Barrier and made a bit of a navigation error and ran himself aground," Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot Rob Arrowsmith told NZPA.

Civil Defence issued a tsunami warning for New Zealand in the wake of yesterday's 8.9-magnitude quake off the coast of Japan. The first wave was expected to hit shortly before 6.30am.

The man sent out a mayday call after hitting rocks on the western side of the island shortly after midnight, Mr Arrowsmith said.

He was winched from the deck of his 11m yacht and flown to Auckland with just a few cuts and scrapes.

Mr Arrowsmith said the man's boat contained his "life-long possessions" and he was right to try and get to open water.

"But trying to avoid damage to his boat, he unfortunately has just about sunk it."

- NZPA

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