Eight divers were rescued from the sea in Hauraki Gulf when their inflatable boat began to take on water yesterday .

The group sent out a mayday about 3pm after suffering engine trouble and large waves started flooding the vessel near Little Barrier Island.

The mayday was picked up by the Westpac Rescue helicopter and a nearby powerboat.

Stephanie Howard, who was onboard the powerboat, said the rescue helicopter radioed in to see if they could help out he stricken boat.


"So we went across and helped out. Because the engine wasn't working they were side on to the waves and because it was a small RIB (rigid inflatable boat), waves were coming over the side and filling it up.''

The boat was weighed down by the men, dive tanks and equipment, she said.

The powerboat started towing the boat back to shore and was met by the Coastguard which towed the vessel the rest of the way to Omaha, north of Auckland.