A Kaiaua man is being credited with the courageous rescue of a stricken boatie who came close to dying from exhaustion as he swam to shore after his boat broke down in the Firth of Thames yesterday.
But police confirmed another man on the boat who also tried to swim to shore drowned.
An emergency worker said two neighbours whose properties abut the shoreline raised the alarm after spotting the pair in difficulty in the water.
They swam out to the pair and managed to bring the boaties back to the rocky shoreline.
The worker, who did not want to be named, said one of the men was close to exhaustion from the swim to shore and would not have made it on his own. "The second one came close to not making it. The chap definitely saved his life."
The rescuer was also taken to hospital with a sprained ankle after stumbling on rocks as he pulled the man from the water.
The other boatie was not breathing when he was pulled from the water and despite efforts to give him CPR he could not be revived.
Auckland police said a call was received about 5.10pm of people in difficulty in the water and the Coastguard and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter were despatched.
Coastguard spokeswoman Georgie Smith said: "The police are dealing with this on the shore. I believe the boat was broken down and one of the people on board has tried to swim to shore for help. One of the people [is] now deceased."