The staff and crew of a tourist ship had to be rescued last night when the vessel struck a rock and sank.
The Waverley was near Doubtful Sound last night when it was believed to have hit a rock.
The passengers and crew were taken aboard another vessel which took the Waverley in tow, but it sank in deep water around midnight near Matai Island.
Environment Southland staff were on their way to the scene to inspect the sunken vessel.
Regional on-scene oil spill commander Kevin O'Sullivan said it was too soon to say whether there would be an environmental impact.
The Waverley was believed to have had up to 700 litres of diesel aboard when it sank.
The vessel is several kilometres from the nearest marine reserve which a population of the endangered bottlenose dolphin frequents.
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