The early morning glassy water on the outskirts of Anzac Bay, north of Tauranga, was the perfect time and place to head out and go fishing.

But the kingfish on the minds of Katikati's 19-year-old Ryan Crapp and his friend Scott quickly turned to a 3.5m great white shark.

The pair had bait fish trailing the boat and Crapp thought the fish "darting everywhere" was a sign they were in for a catch.

"At first I thought, sweet, there's some kingfish hanging around and then I saw the fin pop up and thought it was a pesky old bronze whaler (shark)."

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Two mates were circled by a great white shark for around four minutes in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Supplied
Two mates were circled by a great white shark for around four minutes in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Supplied

"Oh s***, that's a great white," he said when he saw the shark's distinct white underbelly and facial features.

Crapp estimated the shark was around 3.5 meters but rather than feelings of fear, the young men were excited to have it circle the boat for four minutes.

Despite the threat, the mates still ended up snagging a few fish.

The sighting was just as exciting for Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy, who said while he had heard of four great white shark sightings since November, they were a rare and protected species.

Duffy confirmed it was a great white and judging from the video, suspected it was a male nearing maturity.

Great white sharks are listed as vulnerable globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are fully protected in New Zealand waters under the Fisheries Act 1996 and Wildlife Act 1953.

Ryan Crapp estimated the shark was about 3.5m long. Photo / Supplied
Ryan Crapp estimated the shark was about 3.5m long. Photo / Supplied

It is illegal to take or harm great white sharks in New Zealand fisheries waters and offenders can face fines of up to $250,000 and 6 months imprisonment.

A shark accidentally caught is to be released immediately, alive and unharmed. This also needs to be reported to DoC.

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