How a Kiwi skipper helped save the residents of bushfire surrounded Mallacoota

When an Australian town was cut off by fires on New Year's Eve, Kiwi skipper Steve Young and his crew delivered 18 tonnes of food and water just as supplies were running out.

Thousands of people in the town of Mallacoota were trapped by the water's edge as fires closed in and all of them were desperate to escape the inferno.

Young and his crew, including three other Kiwis, reached the bushfire surrounded town before the navy could.

"When we arrived there the peninsula was still on fire," Young told Newshub.

"You couldn't see anything. It was apocalyptic, to say the least."

Their commercial supply ship, the Far Saracen, diverted to answer the emergency call.

When they arrived, they saw many people had nothing left

"I had a grown man come down to me in tears, he'd lost everything his dog, the lot, all he wanted was a drink of water and some freshwater to wash the soot off his face," Young said. 

"We'd come to the conclusion we were gonna give them everything we had."

 For six days they remained in Mallacoota, housing 45 people, and treating the injured until Australia's navy got the residents out.

"You see people who've lived all their life in one area and everything they own gets burnt down to the ground, they're standing in front of you in tears with a couple of shopping bags and that's it, it's very confronting," he said.

Young can now reflect back home in Waiuku, but what he witnessed will remain with him for life.