A rescue attempt off the Tauranga coast has turned out to be a false alarm this morning.
What was thought to be three people in need of help near Matakana Island ended up being three experienced surfers minding their business.
Mount Surf Club life member Kent Jarman confirmed the rescue was "all over" and turned out to be three surfers boating out to Matakana Island.
Emergency services were called to three people in the water off Tauranga's coast about 10.45am.
"Someone on the Mount saw them jump out of the boat but didn't see the fact that they had surfboards underneath them."
Jarman said Coastguard, Surf Life Savers and police were on the scene and the positive was that everyone was safe and they could all respond quickly.
"We would prefer to respond to something to find that it was a false alarm than not respond and find someone had drowned."
He said the surfers were experienced and left to surf.
A strong wind warning remained in place for Bay of Plenty today as ex-cyclone Fili passed to the east of the North Island.
Jarmin said earlier today that boaties should stay out of the water until ex-cyclone Fili had passed as the expected 120km/h winds equalled about 65 knots.
Surfers should know their limitations and swimmers should wait for the waters to settle, he said.