A man has been rescued from the sea off the Northland coast overnight after a yacht struck rocks and sank.

Emergency services were notified at about 11pm after the yacht struck rocks at Motukawiti Island, about 4 km offshore from Matauri Bay in Northland.

Coastguard vessels and the Northland Rescue Helicopter responded to the incident and the yacht was located at about 1am 500 metres North of Motukawiti Island.

When the rescue vessel arrived the yacht had sunk, with only mast and sails above the water.

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There was no sign of the skipper who was the sole occupant. The search continued for the skipper, and at about 1.30am he was found by the Manaia Rescue vessel swimming in the sea.

He was picked up and taken to Whangaroa Harbour.

He did not appear to be badly injured. Salvage of the yacht will be considered.