A kayaker fishing off the Waitara River owes his life to a Scottish man who went out to find him after the kayaker's friends noticed he was missing.

Iain Robertson had just returned from his own fishing expedition, on his jet ski, when a worried man rushed towards him asking for help.

"One of the guys stopped me and asked if I had seen a kayaker out there,'' Robertson, originally from Scotland, told Fairfax.

"I hadn't, so I agreed to go back out across the bar and have a look for them.''

Advertisement

Robertson told the publication he had initially come up short - only spotting a black duffle coat in the water.

However, a police officer on shore pointed him towards where the missing man, who had fallen out of his kayak and was at that stage unresponsive.

"When I found him, I was so happy to see that he was alive but was very cold.

"I could see his eyes were moving, but that was about it. He couldn't move his arms.''

Robertson said managed to bring the man back to shore to safety.

He said he was emotional about the incident; having realised how close the kayaker was to losing his life out there.

"I knew I had saved him at that stage. I think another few minutes - we wouldn't have been bringing him back alive.''

The man who raised the alarm about his missing friend, Kevin Moore, had tears in his eyes following the dramatic rescue.

Moore acknowledged Robertson's effort to help him - and his mate on the water.

"I will never forget his name.''