An Air Force Orion sent to search for four Kiwis on a yacht off Fiji has now rendezvoused with the crew, a defence force spokesman said.

The crew were found safe and well although the yacht, named Jungle, was badly damaged.

A Maritime New Zealand spokesperson said it was likely Jungle would be left on the reef to broken down by the sea.

The New Zealand-owned yacht, with four Kiwis aboard, ran aground on a reef 425km from Suva this morning.


On board were Havana Coffee Works founder Geoff Marsland and yacht owner Peter McLean and his son.

Fairfax reported that the other man onboard was the co-owner of famous Wellington cafe Fidel's, Roger Young.

Roger Foley, who knows both Marsland and McLean and has crewed on the yacht, said he was glad to hear the men were safe.

"It's great that the crew is okay, but very sad that Jungle is damaged."

He said McLean was a "very experienced" sailor.

The men were expected to be picked up by a Fijian Navy vessel by tomorrow afternoon.

The reef is a day away from Fiji by boat.

"The yacht's four crew members had abandoned the yacht and are safe and well on the atoll," Air Force spokesman Darryn Webb said.


"They used the yacht's radio to establish communications with the Orion crew."

Webb said the Orion's crew were trying to contact other vessels nearby to rescue the four yachtsmen.

There were three people living on the atoll, he said.

Marsland's brother, Mike, said this morning he had just heard about the grounding through the media "in the last five minutes".

He had not heard from anyone aboard the boat, which he described as "a big flash yacht".

Those on board activated a distress beacon at 4am today.

The 20m-long boat left Picton a week ago, heading for Tonga.

The Orion flight path to the stricken yacht. Photo/Supplied
The Orion flight path to the stricken yacht. Photo/Supplied

They decided to go to Fiji last night because of an equipment failure, then activated a distress beacon at 4am after going aground on the reef.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Keith Allen said earlier today efforts had been made to contact boats in the area by radio.

He said unfortunately the nearest boat they've been able to contact is about 200km away, can only sail at about seven knots and will take 24 hours to reach Jungle.

Weather conditions were good at the time of the yacht's grounding, with no heavy swells.