20 Apr 2018

Six people rescued from sinking yacht

5:24 pm on 20 April 2018

Two young children and four adults on a 30-foot catamaran had to be winched to safety after their boat hit rocks while on its way to the Great Barrier Island early this morning.

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Photo: Supplied / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

All six passengers escaped with minor injuries - and one of the rescue paramedics has revealed what a lucky escape they had.

St John paramedic, Andrew Ferguson, was on one of two rescue helicopters, which pulled the six passengers to safety from a rocky outcrop in the Mokohinau Islands, 21km northwest of Great Barrier Island.

Andrew Ferguson says the early morning rescue was made difficult by poor light and the island's rocky terrain.

The yacht was quickly filling with water when the six people escaped on an inflatable raft - but luckily, weather conditions were calm.

"It was relatively clear skies, there wasn't a lot of swells - they (people) were all sort of huddled out there in the middle of the rocks."

Emergency services were alerted at 5am and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the Northland Rescue Helicopter were dispatched immediately, along with The Ports of Auckland pilot vessel Wakatere.

"The Westpac helicopter managed to get a number of initial medic down and retrieve a couple of people off the rocks from the vessel," Mr Fergusson said.

"Then I was lowered down by winch onto the rocks and was able to retrieve the remaining person back into our aircraft."

Auckland Police Maritime unit sergeant Garry Larsen said the yacht was on its way to Great Barrier Island from Whangaparoa when it got into trouble.

Mr Larsen said the passengers suffered minor injuries and were taken to Whangarei Hospital.

"From the information we've got they were distressed obviously a couple of young children (were) involved but apparently they're doing well now."

The yacht is now completely submerged with only the mast visible.

Police are investigating to find the cause of the incident.