A rising tide and perilous rocks could have cost a man his life at Muriwai Beach if it wasn't for the heroics of a mystery man.
The unknown rescuer leapt to the man's aid during a daring rescue about 5pm on Sunday.
Volunteers from the Muriwai First response group were the first to reach the injured man.
St John advanced paramedic Chris Deacon says the victim, aged in his 30s, slipped on a wet rock and fell 4 metres into a deep blow hole.
A surging wave pulled him all the way to the bottom of the hole, causing serious injuries, he says.
The mystery man leapt in afterwards and clung on to the seriously injured man for 30 minutes while firefighters fetched a ladder.
Mr Deacon says the man was in a lot of pain with an injured hip and grazes to his body, and was concerned about the incoming tide.
"He would have been swept up and smashed into the rock if the rescuer hadn't held on to him," Mr Deacon says.
The unidentified rescuer, thought to be in his 50s, disappeared after the man was airlifted to safety.
"It was pretty brave for a member of the public to jump in. All of a sudden he was thrown into a situation where he had to save somebody's life."
Muriwai surf teacher Martin Wallis also came to the rescue by paddling on his board into the blowhole. Mr Wallis says the tide rose from knee-deep to almost waist-deep during the rescue. Every time a wave broke on the injured man he yelled in pain, he says.
The man would have drowned if it had been high tide, Muriwai deputy chief fire officer Phelan Pirrie says.
Waves crashing over him were rough and he was suffering too much pain to stand, Mr Pirrie says.
The unsung hero climbed down the rock and was holding the patient's head out of the surf.
Mr Deacon says it was the second rescue in a month from the Muriwai blowholes.
Mr Pirrie says it appears the man was walking to the blowhole when he slipped on some algae and fell to the sand below.
"As soon as you lose your footing it's just a sheer drop off the other side," Mr Pirrie says. "There's nothing you can hold on to - it's just like an ice skating rink."
The patient was winched out through the blowhole in a rigid stretcher known as a Stokes basket. Rescuers including a specialist rope rescue team hoisted the stretcher up a ladder.
The Fire Service's high angle rescue team extricated the man from his position and he was transported to the Westpac rescue helicopter.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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