A boating trip has ended in tragedy after a man drowned when the alloy pontoon boat he was on flipped in the water north of Napier.

Two men, one 65-year-old and one 63-year-old were checking cray fish pots off Waipatiki Beach when the incident occurred.

The dead man's friend survived but was flown to hospital suffering hypothermia.

Hawkes Bay Police Search and Rescue were notified by family members at about 10pm that the boat overdue from the cray fishing trip. The boat had left Napier about 3pm and was due back at 6pm.

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One of the men was located alive on the beach.

He was flown directly to Hawke's Bay Hospital but has since been discharged.

The body of the 63-year-old male was located on rocks nearby and was recovered by the Rescue Helicopter this morning.

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said it appeared the men weren't wearing life jackets when the boat flipped. He said the boat had been well equipped with life jackets and safety equipment.

"It is a tragedy when an afternoon of recreational fishing ends in tragedy and shows the importance of wearing life jackets at all times as incidents like this can develop very quickly."

The matter has been referred to the Coroner.