Two cruise ship passengers have been rescued by police after their kayaks capsized in the Wellington Harbour.

The passengers, aged in their 70s, had been in the water for 10-15 minutes by the time the local maritime police unit plucked them out.

Senior Constable Paul Curd said a group of eight kayakers from the cruise ship Noordam got into trouble about 2.15pm.

Officers were refuelling the police boat when they received a call from the ranger at Matiu-Somes Island concerned the group might have problems in the wind.

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When the boat was fuelled the officers headed out and spoke to the group's guide.

"The group was well separated by then," said Curd.

After they left, the guide called the officers back to rescue one member of the group who had since capsized.

"We picked her up, started warming her up. She was mildly hypothermic."

Curd says they found another member of the group who had also capsized just before a nearby bay.

An outbound Bluebridge ferry was diverted off its course to avoid members of the group as they were being rescued.

The other members of the kayaking group, who were unfamiliar with the area, were scattered across the main shipping channel, coming ashore at Kau Bay and Mahanga Bay on the Miramar Peninsula. Some capsized as they approached the shore but none of the group required medical treatment.

Curd said the incident was a reminder that everyone taking to the water should check the marine forecast, carry communications and have a backup plan as conditions can change quickly.

When heading out it is also important to tell someone about your trip, where you are going and when you will be back.

The incident has been referred to Maritime New Zealand.