3 Jan 2019

Five people rescued from capsized boat lucky to be alive

7:46 am on 3 January 2019

Firefighters who helped rescue five people from a capsized boat on Tuesday night, say they're lucky to be alive.

A Surf Life Saving lifeguard rescue boat is towed to Muriwai Beach, Auckland.

A surf lifeguard was among those who came to the rescue of the boaties in trouble on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Fire and Emergency was notified by the police that a group of five boaties was in trouble in the middle of Whangape Harbour, near Hokianga, at 10pm.

Paekakariki firefighter and surf lifeguard Aaron Richardson was staying in Ahipara when he was called into action.

He said the boaties had luck on their side as the weather conditions were against them.

"They were pretty lucky, either way you put it - with life jackets or without because it was an outgoing tide. I believe the bar is really strong.

Whangape Harbour in Northland is located north of the Hokianga Harbour.

The Whangape Harbour is located north of the Hokianga Harbour on the west coast of Northland. Photo: Google

"It appears they weren't wearing life jackets. The Westpac rescue helicopter even sighted life jackets in the water."

The Ahipara Volunteer Fire Brigade's chief fire officer Dave Ross said they had to act quickly when they heard about the capsizing.

He said they couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

"Absolute relief. It's the best outcome ever. Injuries to the people rescued, but no injuries to our people. Everybody returned to shore and everybody smiling."

Jonty Mills from Water Safety New Zealand said he was glad it had been a good outcome this time, but things could have been different.

He said often boats do have lifejackets on board, but passengers don't wear them.

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