A yacht has been found abandoned with its motor running 11 nautical miles east of Mayor Island off the coast of Tauranga.

The yacht was reported as spinning in circles at low speed with no one on board.

Police and Coastguard members headed out to the yacht, Honfleur, which was now being sailed back to Tauranga.

The 12m, single-mast charter yacht was believed to have left Tauranga for Paihia on Sunday, skippered by Richard Rusbatch, a 56 year old charter boat operator from Russell in the Bay of Islands.

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The Maritime New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre is on stand-by.