The Royal New Zealand Navy rescued the small pooch from a log drifting out to sea on Thursday.
According to the New Zealand Herald, crew from the Inshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea spotted the distressed pup standing on floating driftwood in Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island.
An inflatable boat with four crew members onboard retrieved the dog, and he was taken ashore, where the sailors found someone who knew his owner, said Lieutenant Anthony Norris.
Royal New Zealand Navy / Facebook
"I was going into Fitzroy to get some supplies – I just carried on and thought I'd pick him up on the way home," he said. Before Ngawaka could do that, the Navy had spotted the 8-year-old dog and suspected he was washed out to sea during an intense storm earlier in the week.
Ngawaka described the cattle dog mix as "pretty quiet," and added that the ordeal – and subsequent media attention – hadn't change him much: "He's still the same. He just got a feed and that was it."