Dramatic footage has emerged of the rescue effort that saved a kayaker's life.

On Tuesday, a rescue effort was launched to find a man who had fallen out of his kayak near French Bay in the Manukau Harbour.

The man was found "motionless" in the water about three hours aftre he fell out of the kayak.

Police had earlier received reports of a kayak and paddle "floating across the water" without anyone in it at about 12.55pm.

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The video shows the police Eagle helicopter flying to the scene and spotting a fisherman on the coast who pointed to the area they should search.

Shortly after, the crew saw a man "floating motionless in the water", one of the chopper pilots said in a video posted to the Auckland City District Police Facebook page.

From the air he is barely visible in his black wetsuit, floating on his back among the waves with the help of a "flotation device". Hand signals between the crew and the man established he was not in a good condition.

"He doesn't look terribly happy about being there," the pilot said in a message radioed to base.

"So we have decided to deploy a rescue swimmer from the helicopter to remain with him until such time as airport rescue arrive."

The rescuer jumped out of the helicopter into the water and the video shows the rescue swimmer paddling over to the man with a rescue tube, whereafter he reassured the man and made him safe, the pilot said.

Air support unit Sergeant Colin Ware, the rescuers' superior, earlier told the Herald the man asked the rescuer to "tell my wife I love her" as they waited for help to arrive.

"His mindset was he was close to giving up by the sound of it, he didn't give very positive feedback initially," he told the Herald.

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A hovercraft from Auckland Airport then arrived and pulled the pair from the water.

The man didn't appear to be seriously hurt as he walked along the deck of the hovercraft and was then taken to French Bay.

Police said the successful rescue was a reminder to those going on the water to always wear a lifejacket and carry a waterproof form of communication, such as a cellphone in a watertight bag.