Three people were rescued in the early hours of this morning after a fishing vessel hit rocks in the Bay of Islands just before 4am.

At 3.50 this morning a distress signal was sent from the 12m longline charter vessel saying it had hit rocks.

Coastguard volunteers were paged to respond to the incident on Bay Rescue II which departed Doves Bay Marina at 4.20am.

The boat was found north of Whale Bay on rocks and was now 90 per cent submerged in water, Coastguard said.


The Northland Regional Harbourmaster was notified due to the 1600 litres of diesel on board the vessel.

Three people were found nearby under a cliff in Howe Bay, shaken and mildly hypothermic but coherent.

They were transported by the Coastguard Rescue Vessel back to Doves Bay Marina to an awaiting ambulance.

Coastguard spokeswoman Georgie Smith said this was another successful example of search and rescue teams working together.

"The fact that the vessel had multiple forms of communication onboard meant that when one failed another was able to be used, greatly reducing both the search area and time taken to locate the vessel and its crew," she said.

"The Coastguard Volunteers that responded from Coastguard Bay of Islands were paged out from their homes to respond in the early hours and now return back to base and continue with their day jobs. It's remarkable really."