A man has died following a boating incident near Gisborne tonight.

Emergency services were called to an incident at Sponge Bay Island at about 7pm.

Police said two men on a small boat had got into some difficulty and were unable to get back to shore.

The local Coastguard and Eastland Rescue Helicopter were called to the scene. However, one of the men had already died.


Eastland Rescue Helicopter pilot Neil Dodds said it appeared the men's vessel had become stuck on rocks as they approached the island.

"It's quite a rocky area and the boat was just stuck on the rocks,'' he said.

The pair had left their boat and attempted to make their way to the island, when one got into difficulty in the water.

Mr Dodds said the dead man was an older gentleman; while the surviving man was younger, possibly in his 30s.

"We flew him back and he was in a state of shock. He'd been on the island for some time and he was very upset,'' Mr Dodds.

The helicopter also took the dead man. The younger man did not require medical treatment.

Members of the Coastguard towed the men's vessel - which was still intact - back to shore.