A cruise ship passenger has died after being airlifted in critical condition from the Dawn Princess yesterday.

The Northland Electricity rescue helicopter flew to Waitangi yesterday morning to pick up the elderly passenger who had become ill on board the Dawn Princess as it approached the Bay of Islands.

Northland Emergency Services trust pilot Pete Turnbull said the man was unconscious and had been ventilated by cruise ship staff.

He was brought ashore on a tender then flown to Whangarei Hospital.

The man died in hospital this morning, a Northland DHB spokeswoman confirmed.

The Dawn Princess, which has up to 2272 passengers was due in Auckland today.