A New Zealand ketch has come to the rescue of a catamaran with children on board that ran aground on a remote reef in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the stricken vessel struck trouble early this morning when it hit a reef in heavy seas southeast of Niue.

A distress call was made from the British catamaran which had a couple and their two children on board.

The centre then liaised with a New Zealand-registered ketch anchored in a nearby lagoon that responded to the emergency radio call.

Advertisement

The family were rescued at daylight with a dinghy able to reach the yacht and collect the family.

The rescue centre's search and rescue officer Geoff Lunt said the family were very lucky a yacht happened to be anchored nearby, as Beveridge Reef was 400km southeast of Niue and there were no other vessels anywhere in the vicinity.

"The skipper of a New Zealand-registered 18-metre steel ketch answered the emergency radio call from our Maritime Operations Centre within seven minutes. It was very fortunate they were anchored in the lagoon and listening to the distress channel at 2.30am," he said.

By the time the rescuers reached the catamaran it was taking on water and well aground on the reef. It was now likely to break up.

The British family had to leave with only the clothes they were wearing and their passports, he said.

They were now comfortable onboard the ketch, within the safety of the lagoon before sailing to Niue in the next few days.

"We would like to thank the crew of the ketch and all the rescue services involved in tracking vessel locations and successfully rescuing this family," said Luntt.