A West Coast man died while fishing from a kayak at Cape Foulwind late yesterday afternoon.

The 48-year-old could not be revived after he was pulled from the water at Tauranga Bay and he was pronounced dead at the scene, shortly after 5pm. His identity had not been revealed today.

Police said the man was found lying face down in the water at the popular surfing beach, about 18km south-east of Westport.

Emergency services were called when bystanders found him in the water, about 30m from the shore.

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"Attempts were made to resuscitate the man but he died at the scene," Tasman police area media spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said.

An investigation was under way to establish the cause of death, and the man's name would not be released until his next of kin had been notified.

St John territory manager Robbie Blankenstein said the victim was "unresponsive" when pulled from the surf by friends.

An off-duty doctor happened to be at the beach and helped in the resuscitation attempt.

The kayaker was pronounced dead at the scene after repeated attempts to revive him.