When keen photographer Mandy Hague went to White Island to count seals, she had no idea she would capture on camera the moment a mako shark leapt from the water near her boat.

Ms Hague was about 7km off the coast of Whakatane last week, on her way back from the island, when the boat skipper saw the shark.

"On the way out there I'd seen a shark jump two or three times and he said it was quite common at this time of year."

On the trip back they saw the shark jump again, and Ms Hague took her chance.

"I saw where it landed in the water, the splash, and hoped it would come back up again and sure enough it did."

She lifted her camera and focused on the spot where she'd last seen it and started clicking.

Ms Hague said the shark was about 2m long and leaped at least 2.4m in the air.

The first time it jumped it was only about 8m from their boat, but the second time it was further away.

Ms Hague usually photographed birds but said she'd become a shark fan recently.

As a child she used to go game-fishing with her father, who holds the New Zealand record for black marlin - 444kg.

Mako sharks are a common species in New Zealand waters but usually stay offshore in deep waters.

They are known to be aggressive and can be a danger to boaties.

Department of Conservation marine biologist Clinton Duffy told the Herald in October they stole fish off lines and were known to chase fish right up to boats.

Large mako can be longer than 3.5m and weigh up to 450kg.

"They are also known for their jumping ability.

"They are a popular game fish and they have incredible stamina. They can jump several times their own body length over and over and over. They could jump into a boat," Mr Duffy said.