Four boats were part of a rescue on Lake Tarawera after a call from two kayakers to a family member cut out.
Acting Senior Sergeant Karl Konlechner of the Rotorua police said they launched a search for the couple who had set off to go kayaking on Wednesday, after the mother of one of the pair called police.
She said they had rung her and said the words "we need" before the call cut out.
Three coastguard boats and the Rotorua harbourmaster's boat searched the lake and found the couple's two kayaks padlocked together on the shore at Tiariki Bay about 3.45pm yesterday.
The couple contacted the police just after 5.30pm to say they were safe.