Teenager saved by police after trying to cross Cook Strait in a dinghy

The small boat the teen was found in.
The small boat the teen was found in. Photo credit: Supplied/ NZ Police

An 18-year-old is alive thanks to his cellphone, after he got lost trying to cross the Cook Strait in a dinghy. 

Police say if it wasn't for his phone, the end of his story could have been very different. 

The unnamed teenager set out at 10pm on Wednesday night from the Kenepuru Sound, aiming for Wellington - but things didn't quite go to plan.

At 9am on Thursday, he called the Harbour Master saying he had broken down off the Mana Coast but wasn't sure where.

Luckily police were able to track his cell phone and discovered he was 12 kilometres west of Mana Island. The man was cold but not hypothermic and was brought back to dry land by police.

Senior Sergeant Dave Houston says the rescue serves as a good reminder that Cook Strait can be a dangerous stretch of water.

"You need to have all proper safety equipment and be an experienced and capable seaman if you are going to make this coastal voyage," he said.

While he was wearing a life jacket, the teenager was not experienced and hadn't checked the conditions.

"If it wasn't for him ringing and us being able to locate him from his phone data it could have been a very different outcome," Houston said

"The mobile locate literally saved his life."