Passengers aboard a Bay of Islands ferry were forced to make a hurried exit this afternoon after a fire broke out in the engine room.

A passenger raised the alarm as the Waimarie ferry was halfway between Paihia and Russell about 1pm, The Northern Advocate reported.

The five passengers on board were quickly picked up by a passing boat that drew up alongside after noticing smoke billowing from the vessel.

The skipper put the fire out with extinguisher and no one was injured.

The boat was not thought to be seriously damaged.