A man suffering hypothermia was airlifted to hospital after toppling from a kayak off the Coromandel coast today.

The man in his 50s had been fishing from his kayak near Waikawau this morning.

When he went to pull in his anchor, he toppled from the kayak and could not get back in.

A member of the public on the shore, who had seen him through binoculars, alerted emergency services.

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He had been struggling in the water for about an hour when he was pulled out by a person on a passing boat, on its way back from fishing.

The Westpac Auckland Rescue Helicopter was called to the scene, where they found the man cold, exhausted and suffering from mild hypothermia.

The crew took the man to Thames Hospital in a serious condition.

The chopper trust said the kayaker had been well-prepared. He had been wearing a life jacket and was carrying a radio, but this had dropped into the water when he fell in.