Missing Tokelauans located by NZ Orion

Three men have been found safe and well after spending more than 30 hours lost in a dinghy in Tokelau.

New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted on Tuesday afternoon that the men were missing after a squall separated a fleet of small fishing boats.

An Orion flew to Tokelau yesterday and found them after a four-hour search.

The Search and Rescue Mission Co-ordinator Mike Roberts says the men had no lifejackets, flares or food, and a single bottle of water between them.

He says it seems they lost sight of land after the squall and headed in the wrong direction.

They have now been returned to Atafu Atoll.

Earlier this week, a New Zealand Orion also helped a fishing trawler in distress off Tonga by dropping it a VHF radio so the crew could set up a rendezvous with another vessel.