Five people, rescued moments before their boat sank off Great Barrier Island this morning, were lucky a Navy ship was training nearby.
The 11-metre launch, Stager, started taking on water off Cape Colville and called for help at around 5.45am.
The HMNZS Canterbury was sent to the scene along with coastguard vessels from Great Barrier Island and Auckland.
ONE News was onboard the HMNZS Canterbury as the dramatic rescue unfolded, see the full story on ONE News at 6pm tonight.
"We were about 20 miles to the west of the vessel so we responded straight away and commenced a rescue effort," commanding officer Commander Sean Stewart told ONE News.
The ship was going to take an hour to reach the scene, so a Sea Sprite helicopter was sent ahead to find the ship and see what kind of state it was in.
"It was clear from the helicopter that they were in a lot of distress and so he made the call to start pulling them off via the winch," Stewart said.
Two people were winched off by the helicopter, while volunteer coastguards from Great Barrier Island, who had also arrived at the scene quickly, helped three people off the stricken launch.
"They were literally minutes away from them having to tread water," Stewart said. "Shortly after, within two or three minutes of them being rescued, their vessel went down."
All five of the adults onboard were New Zealand citizens and experienced sailors, they were also all wearing lifejackets.
The group were brought back to HMNZS Canterbury to be checked over, but none of them were injured.
"They were cold, wet and shaken but very very grateful to be back on board," Stewart said.
"We've since given them a shower and a warm cup of Milo and their clothes are being washed and cleaned and dried and before you now it they'll be back into clean and dry clothes and back in Auckland."
The rescued group said they were extremely thankful for the actions of the Coastguard and Navy, who managed to save them just in time.
The skipper's actions were also praised by the Coastguard.
"This incident highlights the importance of having a Marine VHF Radio onboard where you can alert many people to your situation," duty officer Mark Leevers said.
"The skipper did all the right things."