Two men were rescued after spending hours in freezing water after their dinghy capsized on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour last night.

At about 9pm the Coastguard was contacted by a man on Wynyard Wharf in downtown Auckland who said he could hear a voice coming from the middle of the harbour calling for help, Coastguard northern region duty officer Mark Leevers told APNZ.

They contacted police who sent a boat to investigate.

At about 10pm a man was found shivering on a moored boat near Stanley Point, who told them his dinghy had capsized at about 8pm and he had become separated from his companion.


Police, Coastguard, a Westpac rescue helicopter and surf lifeguards from nearby Queen's Wharf immediately began a detailed search of the harbour, which extended all the way to Rangitoto Island.

After they had been searching for about four hours and hope of finding the man alive was fading, a Coastguard vessel started going from boat to boat in Shoal Bay, near the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

As they passed by one moored boat a crew member looked back at where they had just been and spotted the man on the deck "looking very cold and very weary" .

"Only moments before the boat had been lit up like daylight and he hadn't even registered. He was only roused by the noise of the boat as it passed by - he was very cold and disoriented.

"Once he heard the coastguard vessel going passed he managed to rouse himself and get up on deck to make himself known."

The man had been in the water for more than two hours before he managed to pull himself onto the boat and was "very hypothermic".

He had responded well to treatment and was taken to Auckland Hospital.

Mr Leevers praised all the organisations involved in the operation.


"Considering the length of time that had passed , considering the conditions out there - we were having wind of up to 30 knots and rain, very poor visibility - it was a great outcome.

"The guys on the Coastguard boats and the surf guys are volunteers - they don't get paid for what they do - and they got called out in horrible conditions and did an absolutely amazing job.

"The police did really well in co-ordinating across four different agencies. It was good operation and it ended excellently."

The two men, who were both in their mid-twenties, did not have life jackets or an emergency communications device.

"Something that would have alerted people around them would have been having waterproof communications - they could have signalled for assistance and they would have been rescued in tens of minutes rather than hours."

It was not known why their dinghy had sunk.