Three men have been pulled from the water south of Tauranga after their boat capsized when trying to cross a well-known sandbar.

The men's rescue from the Kaituna Bar, near the small coastal town of Maketu, comes a day after two elderly men also capsized and were trapped under their boat for a short time the day before.

In today's rescue, the three men hit a sandbar while making their crossing at about 7.50am before being caught by large waves that turfed them into the water.

One man was initially reported sitting on the hull of the upturned tinny boat. However, all three had begun swimming to shore by the time a Coastguard vessel from Maketu arrived to pick them up.


The men were all rescued safely and did not require medical treatment.

A Coastguard spokeswoman said it was always "fairly" dangerous crossing the Kaituna Bar, but conditions were especially dangerous at the moment.

She said the men had not done anything wrong, but it sometimes "happened" boats struck a sandbar.

It had been a busy 24 hours for Coastguard crews after two elderly men were also caught on the bar and their vessel capsized yesterday at 1.30pm.

Initially, the two men were trapped under their boat and it took "a while" for them to get out, the Coastguard spokeswoman said.

One of the men took in a lot of seawater and was assessed by paramedics but not taken to hospital, a St John spokeswoman said.

The Kaituna Bar crossing is a well-known hazard for boaties.

People launching boats in the river estuary near Maketu need to cross the bar to head out to sea.


Coastguard Maketu has made a video showing how to cross the bar safely.

The groups says that, because of the shallower water and changing conditions, bar crossings can be extremely dangerous, even for experienced boaties.

It advises boaties to seek local advice on where the sandbars and channels are, check the conditions are safe, make sure everybody is wearing lifejackets and ensure the boat has at least two forms of communication to call for help.

Coastguard's Maketu unit is one of 62 units across the country that relies on volunteers to help provide about 300,000 hours of their time each year and contribute to about 2000 search and rescue operations.