A man who was found drunk in open water after clinging to an overturned dinghy near Tauranga harbour for six hours risked his life and the lives of others, police say.

The man was rescued at about 3am by a pilot boat on its way to bring another vessel into the harbour, Senior Sergeant Carl Purcell said.

"He had been in the water for some six hours, had no life jacket, no flares, no radio. He had been drinking and was intoxicated and was taken to Tauranga Hospital.''

His actions were "very disappointing'' and there is no explanation for what he did, he said.


"We figured he would have gone out about 9 o'clock at night. At that time it was pretty windy here.

"He put his life in danger and other persons who may have had to come to his rescue.''

The man was aged in his 50s, and was checked-over by hospital staff, Mr Purcell said.

Anyone on the water should be wearing a life-jacket, and take all the necessary precautions to be safe, he said.