A Far North couple were left clinging to the hull of their boat after it capsized during an early morning fishing trip off Karikari Peninsula.

The couple aged, 66 and 72, launched off the northern end of Tokerau Beach and were two to three kilometres from shore when their 3.9m tinnie boat capsized.

They managed to raise the alarm about 8am yesterday but shortly afterwards, their phone cut out.

Mangonui Senior Constable Tim Murdock said the duo were both wearing lifejackets and managed to cling to the side of the upturned vessel.


"There were a couple of boats in the area but they couldn't get their attention," Murdock said.

Fortunately a member of the public onshore saw the flipped boat and the two people unable to get aboard and launched a boat and carried out a rescue mission.

The couple were left shaken by the ordeal, Murdock said.

The capsized boat, with the help of the member of the public, was towed ashore later in the morning.

Before the rescue by the public the police specialist Search and Rescue team was contacted and began preparing for a plane and rescue helicopter to start an aerial search as it was unclear exactly where the couple were.

Detective Paul Overton said a trip report had not been filed so no one knew where they were. He said a second form of communication was also advisable such as a waterproof VHF radio.

Flares may have also meant they could have attracted the attention of boaties in the area.

The incident comes just before Labour Weekend a traditional time for boaties to hit the water for the first time after a winter break.


Northland Regional Council harbourmaster Jim Lyle said boaties needed to give their craft a once-over before launching for the summer season.

"Outboards need to be serviced or at least checked over. Safety equipment needs to be checked and there should be enough lifejackets for everyone going out on the boat."

Lyle recommended having at least two types of communication that were water-proof onboard.

He said trip reports should be logged with coastguard or at least someone told where and when the trip would end so if boaties failed to return, the alarm could be raised.

At this time of the year with divers out collecting scallops, dive flags should be correctly displayed.

"It's for the divers' safety," Lyle said.

Boats must with divers must display a blue and white flag and be the correct size which is 600mmx600mm. Divers must stay inside a 200 metre radius and other boaties must stay 200m away from vessels displaying the flag.

Transgressions are a fineable offence and can see those who flout the laws coping a $200 fine.