A young New Zealand couple with just two years' sailing experience navigated dark choppy seas to help rescue a Danish crew after their yacht started sinking near Niue.

Adventure-seekers Rohan Honson-Morris and his fiancee Abby Sanford, who is 26 weeks' pregnant, said the nighttime rescue was "intense and emotional for everyone involved".

The pair, with Honson-Morris's parents also onboard, were heading from Niue to Tonga, before making their way home to New Zealand after a three-month global adventure that started in the British Virgin Islands.

About five hours after departing Niue at 1pm on Monday on their catamaran Inspire, they received a call to assist the Danish yacht Gwendoline Mary, about 10 nautical miles (19km) away.

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Danish couple Kim and Lene Egtved had hit an object in the water and was sinking.

"We don't know what it was but we came to a standstill. It was like hitting a brick wall," Kim Egtved said.

The boat started quickly taking on water and after an hour of trying to stop the flow they knew they had to abandon ship.

Getting into the liferaft in the dark during 3m swells was a "terrifying experience".

"We knew if we fell into the water in the dark we would float away so quickly and never be found. We'd be dead," Kim Egtved said.

The Greek yacht Filizi had also answered the mayday call and was slightly ahead of the NZ crew on the way to assist.

NZ couple Rohan Honson-Morris and Abby Sanford on their yacht, Inspire. Photo / Supplied
NZ couple Rohan Honson-Morris and Abby Sanford on their yacht, Inspire. Photo / Supplied

As the rescuers drew closer Gwendoline Mary let off a flare, but Sanford said it was "nerve wracking" wondering if they would find them floating in the big seas.

They and the Filizi crew managed to keep in radio contact, confirming their position and reassuring them they were on their way.

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NZ couple Rohan Honson-Morris and his fiancee Abby Sanford sold their Waikuku Beach house two years ago to buy a catamaran and travel the world. Photo / Supplied
NZ couple Rohan Honson-Morris and his fiancee Abby Sanford sold their Waikuku Beach house two years ago to buy a catamaran and travel the world. Photo / Supplied

After arriving the challenge was getting them off the lifeboat and aboard the yachts in the big seas, and in the dark. Filizi arrived first with Inspire arriving shortly after to assist.

Despite the "extremely rough conditions" the Filizi crew managed to get the pair safely on board.

Getting onto the Filizi from the liftraft was "like something from a Hitchcock movie" Kim Egtved said, with "howling wind, big waves, the moon peeping through the clouds in the pitch dark".

The skipper from the Greek boat broke a rib in the struggle to get Lena on board but when Kim attempted he said it was like the scene from another movie.

"All of a sudden everything was good and I just stepped from the edge of the liferaft onto their boat like James Bond."

Safely on board the Filizi, the four hugged for minutes.

"It was an emotional time. These people we had never met literally risked their lives for us - and one broke a rib."

Sanford told the Herald the rescue was incredibly intense and emotional but had the best outcome.

"The crew from Gwendoline were so brave. It would have been a very terrifying experience for them to hop into the life raft in the big seas," Sanford said.

"We were relieved and glad to know they were safe and able to assist in the rescue."

Rohan Honson-Morris on the yacht Inspire. Photo / Supplied
Rohan Honson-Morris on the yacht Inspire. Photo / Supplied

The Danish couple had to abandon their yacht and lifeboat, and joined the Filizi heading to Tonga.

Sanford said they received a phone call the following day from the couple, Lene Egtved and Kim David Egtved, with a "very emotional, heart-warming message".

"They thanked us, and said it was very comforting to hear us on the radio."

Lene Egtved and Kim David Egtved, from Denmark, were rescued after their yacht Gwendoline sank off Niue. Photo / Supplied
Lene Egtved and Kim David Egtved, from Denmark, were rescued after their yacht Gwendoline sank off Niue. Photo / Supplied

They were to meet the Danish couple in Tonga today.

The NZ pair sold their Waikuku Beach house two years ago to buy a 2007 Lagoon 420 Catamaran choosing a life of travel and adventure over material wealth.

They had spent little time on land since.

The pair took crash courses in sailing from Google and YouTube and had jumped in the deep end with adventures around Ibiza, Gibraltar and Portugal.

They have sailed down the coast of Morocco, spent time around the Canary Islands and then took on the crossing from Cape Verde to Barbados.

Weeks have been spent living on the boat with friends and family visiting them and helping crew for various legs of the trip.

New Zealand couple Rohan Morris and Abby Sanford have been sailing the world in their yacht Inspire. Photo / Supplied
New Zealand couple Rohan Morris and Abby Sanford have been sailing the world in their yacht Inspire. Photo / Supplied

The current adventure included finding out they were pregnant just as they sailed out of Panama, the challenges of pregnancy on the open sea and of course the dramatic rescue.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre NZ search and rescue officer Mike Roberts praised the crew of the Greek and New Zealand boats for answering the call and doing a "marvellous job."

He stressed the importance of having communications equipment onboard vessels.

"This shows the critical importance of working communications equipment and the absolute necessity to carry survival equipment, especially when sailing offshore."

The pair, who are near Tonga, have kept a diary of their adventures at sea on sailinginspire.com. They also have a YouTube channel.