A man found clinging to his overturned dinghy in the middle of the main shipping channel near Tauranga's harbour has been rescued.
The 48-year-old spent what's thought to be six hours in the open water before being picked up at 3am by a pilot boat heading out of the harbour to guide a larger vessel to port.
Senior Sergeant Carl Purcell said the boatie went out fishing in the afternoon, drank when he came back to shore and took alcohol with him as he left to do night fishing.
Mr Purcell said the dinghy was overturned and the drunk man was not wearing a lifejacket, so he is lucky to be alive. He said the police won't be laying charges and will leave the matter to the Harbour Master.
Port of Tauranga says there were several vessels in the harbour during the man's time in the water, including three large ships, and he could have easily been hit by one of them.
The man was taken to hospital where it is understood he was treated for hypothermia but he has now been released.