Man clinging to pool noodle rescued from Wellington Harbour after dinghy sinks

A Wellington fisherman credits a $4 pool noodle for saving his life.

Hamish Mcilraith was rescued from Wellington Harbour after his homemade dinghy sank.

He and his flatmate Jimmy had to abandon ship into the water but with just one life jacket between them - and the race was on to raise the alarm.

Hamish bought the items from the Warehouse before he and flatmate Jimmy launched their homemade dinghy from Mahanga Bay on Monday morning.

They didn't have enough money for two life jackets.

"That's the pool noodle and there's the life jacket," Hamish told Newshub.

"This was $65 dollars at the Warehouse [and this was] $4."

Jimmy swam back to shore with the life-jacket on, leaving Hamish clinging to the pool noodle in the middle of Wellington Harbour.

He used it to stay afloat for almost an hour before police picked him up and pulled him to safety.

"I could tell he was cold because as soon as we got him up there, he was shivering violently," Wellington Police Maritime Unit Senior Constable Roscoe Lane said.

Hamish was treated for mild hypothermia back on land but police say the outcome could have been very different.

"To the point you know a fatality was probably going to happen in the next 15, 20 minutes," Constable Lane said.

Hamish returned to Mahanga Bay today, looking for any sign of his dinghy.

And if he ever gets it back, he knows he'll need more than a pool noodle the next time he goes out in a homemade boat.

A life saved by what Hamish describes as the best $4 he's ever spent.