The Hokianga car ferry took on a new role as a rescue boat when two swimmers got into trouble off Rawene.
The drama occurred about 2.30pm on Tuesday just as the ferry was leaving Rawene for Kohukohu.
A young man and woman had been jumping from the Rawene jetty to cool off but ferry passenger Frank Herbert of Pawarenga, on his way home after a meeting at Rawene Hospital, noticed they were in trouble in a strong tidal current and raised the alarm.
Ferry captain Alan Barratt carefully manoeuvred the vessel alongside the pair so Dirk Annemans and another deckhand could deploy a boarding ladder and life buoy.
The teens were hauled on deck and the ferry delivered the pair to dry land. Mr Annemans said the young man seemed exhausted after the ordeal.
"The other swimmer, a young woman, was trying to swim against the current and appeared to be going into a panic," he said.
Three days earlier, the ferry crew had rescued a sailor whose Sunburst yacht had capsized in the wind.
The crew used the same buoy and an inflatable from the Rawene Sailing Club.
Mr Annemans' last rescue was 30 years ago when a hapless drunk stepped out of a taxi and dropped between the wharf and the gangway into the sea.
The same rescue technique was deployed then, although the drunk received a scraped face as a reminder of his brush with drowning.