Raw video: Catamaran sinks rapidly off Northland coast after six people, kids flee to shore in life raft

Six people have been rescued from an island group off Northland's east coast after their catamaran hit rocks and sank.

Police said the 30-foot catamaran struck rocks about 5am this morning near the Mokohinau Islands east of Whangarei and north of Great Barrier Island.

The vessel sank, and six people boarded a life raft and made it to shore.

They were picked up by the Westpac Rescue and Northland Rescue Helicopters and taken to Whangarei's Kensington Hospital - they were cold, but largely uninjured.

The passengers were two adult men and four children, Police said, and the vessel was on its way from Great Barrier Island to Whangaparoa at the time.