Police are responding to the submersion of a red ute in Tauranga Harbour.

The ute was spotted in Hunters Creek, Matakana Island, by a local man returning home from fishing on Sunday afternoon.

Only the top of the ute's cab could be seen above the waterline as an outgoing tide gradually lowered.

No one was believed to be inside but a police media spokeswoman confirmed officers were responding after they were notified of the incident at 3pm.

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The spokeswoman said officers were heading to Omokoroa to make a "visual assessment".