Fatal end to Makara paua dive

Strangers rushed to help but could not save a man who collapsed and died while snorkelling off Wellington's west coast.

The Wellington man, in his 30s, had been snorkelling for paua with friends and family near Makara on Saturday.

Sergeant Wade Fale, of Wellington police, said the man was in waist-deep water when he got into trouble at Opau Bay.

Two bystanders helped drag him to the shore where the man's diving companions tried to resuscitate him.

The bay where the group had been snorkelling occupies a nook in Wellington's western coastline.

It is accessible only by a steep downhill walking track near Makara's gun emplacements.

Wellington Free Ambulance's paramedics had to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the remote beach after the emergency call was received about 11.30am.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman Logan Taylor said the group of about five or six, who were diving with snorkels off the beach, had tried hard to save the man.

"They pulled him ashore and they gave him CPR till we arrived."

The helicopter's onboard paramedic continued to try to resuscitate the man as he was flown to Wellington Hospital, Mr Logan said.

The victim, who was due to travel for heart surgery in the next few weeks, was able to be resuscitated while onboard the helicopter but was pronounced dead at Wellington Hospital's emergency department in the afternoon.

The Dominion Post