A man whose brother and father have been found alive almost 24 hours after going missing on a fishing trip says he feared he would never see them again.
Michael Ward, 72, and his son John, 23, were found by rescuers this afternoon about 3km off the Northland coast after the motor of their small aluminium boat failed yesterday.
Their son and brother, Luke Ward, said his family had endured a morning from hell, nervous they would never see Michael and John again.
A "surprisingly" calm John phoned his brother to say he was safe using the phone of rescuers who found him and his father drifting off the Mangonui coast about 1.30pm.
"[John] was surprisingly calm, as if nothing had happened. Dad was okay, he said," Luke told APNZ.
"We're definitely elated, just very tearful.
"We're overjoyed. We can't wait to see them again. It's such a relief.
"I've definitely hugged the policeman that was here and all of my family and the friends who have come over.
"We do have a lot of close friends. My dad's an ex-teacher at [Kaitaia College], so a lot of teacher friends have come over and it's been amazing."
Luke, 25, a doctor at Whangarei Hospital, had rushed to be with his mother at the family home at Cable Bay this morning.
"We were definitely very nervous. You always think of the worst case scenario," he said.
"I think the support really from the police and Search and Rescue has been awesome.
"I was up all night. I heard direct from one of the police officers at 2.30am."
Luke said he was yet to be in touch with his three older siblings - brothers Mark and Matthew and sister Lela - who live in the United States.
Luke and his mother were expecting to be reunited with Michael and John this afternoon after they were brought back to shore.
He said the first thing they wanted to do was wrap their arms around Michael and John, but then his father would probably be "scolded" by his mother for the fright he had given the family.
"Dad's always outdoors, he can't ever sit still," Luke said.
"I hope this does [put him off fishing for a while].
"He does [go fishing] now and then. We haven't been able to go out that much this summer actually because the engine's been having a lot of trouble.
"This is the second time out this summer and it sounds like it's kind of died out."
Luke said his dad probably needed a new boat and it might even be an early birthday present for him.
The fishermen had set off from Mill Bay, Mangonui about 2pm yesterday.
They were expected back about 9pm and when they didn't return a family member contacted police.
The boat had no form of communication and no emergency flare kit, police said.
An immediate search began at midnight but was soon called off.
It resumed at first light this morning with air and water searches.
- APNZBy Kieran Campbell @KieranCampbell Email Kieran