Four men tied themselves together and tried to raise the alarm after their boat flipped while crossing the Port Waikato bar.
The men were wearing lifejackets when their six-metre vessel was swamped by waves this morning.
Waikato Regional Council maritime services team leader Richard Barnett said the skipper did not tell Coastguard the boat was crossing the bar.
The men set off flares, but could not attract attention.
They spent 45 minutes in the water before making it to shore.
Mr Barnett said they were lucky to be washed ashore.
Their boat is still missing.
Mr Barnett said recommended practise was to alert Coastguard beforehand and then confirm afterwards that the craft was safe.
If the confirmation call was not made, Coastguard would know there was a potential problem.
On 26 November, eight men died after the fishing charter boat the Francie capsized crossing the Kaipara Harbour bar. Three survived.