Kayaker spent hours clinging to rocks

18:18, May 04 2014
kayak rescue
RELIEF: Rescuers negotiated rapids, cold and dark to rescue a kayaker.

Rescuers had to negotiate car-sized boulders, rapids, cold and dark to rescue a kayaker swept away in a remote Bay of Plenty river.

The man spent three hours on the rock last night essentially "clinging on by his finger nails" before rescuers manager to get a harness across five to six metres of rapids and and drag him to safety through icy water, Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot Nat Every said.

The Taupo helicopter was called to the scene after a personal locator beacon was activated from the Motu River, in a remote area inland from Opotiki.

Two kayakers had been trying to get through a difficult section on the river on foot when one of them slipped and got carried away by the river. 

''He was able to perch himself on a rock in the middle of the river but was unable to reach the river bank on either side. During the course of the incident they managed to lose both of their kayaks and most of their belongings.''

To reach the site, the helicopter had to drop into a narrow section of the river, with steep banks about 700m high on either side.

The helicopter dropped a land search and rescue [LandSAR] crew off then found a landing site among 'car sized boulders in the river bed''.

''After around three hours trapped precariously on the rock in the middle of the raging river, the LandSAR team were able to set a rope anchor and pull the man to safety,'' Every said.