Three people were forced to jump from a sinking boat and swim to safety near Little Barrier Island tonight.
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew to help after being told at 6pm a boat carrying three people - described as two adults and one young adult - was sinking, the helicopter trust's communications manager Lincoln Davies said.
"Enroute crew were notified by Coastguard that a boat in the vicinity had picked up ... three passengers from the sinking boat. [They] had swum to the other boat and were wearing lifejackets.
"When the Westpac 1 helicopter arrived, the stricken boat was fully engulfed in flames."
• Out-of-control super yacht crashes into Caribbean bridge keeper's booth
• Tauranga sailor Stuart Pedersen dies after yacht sinks north of Cape Brett
• Two mayday calls prompt search and rescue effort in Bay of Plenty
• A British couple hitching on a yacht that turned into a tale of horror
The helicopter pilot made several orbits around the burning boat to make sure all onboard were accounted for and, after being told none needed medical help, returned to base.