Horse trapped by rising river near Otaki rescued by helicopter
A helicopter has flown a horse to safety after it was trapped by a rapidly rising Otaki River.
The horse was on the riverbank near the intersection of Otaki Gorge and Waihoanga roads, about 1.5km east of the road bridge in the Otaki Forks area, with water levels rising quickly.
It is understood a helicopter lifted it to safety just after 1pm on Friday.
The horse was anaesthetised about 12.15pm and strops were fitted around it. It had been trapped on a small area of shingle that was disappearing under water as the river rose.
By 1.15pm, the horse was lying in about a metre of water with rescuers holding its head above water when the helicopter arrived.
It flew in and hovered above while a long line was attached to the strops around the horse, which was then lifted to a nearby paddock at Waihoanga Centre. The rescue took about two minutes.
SPCA staff are now assessing the horse.
SPCA inspector Peter McCallum said earlier that with the sedation and the cold water, the horse was at risk of hypothermia.
He did not know how the horse got there to begin with.
"It's somehow got down to the river and it's on a beach which is rapidly shrinking."
A rescue team of about 12 people had been in the water and on the bank assisting with the operation.
The society's rescue staff were working with emergency response teams from the Massey University vet school and the Palmerston North City Council.
The owner was also at the scene and had been able to put a cover on the horse, which had some minor cuts.
The patch of shingle beach the horse was trapped on was about 200 metres long and 30m wide when emergency services first arrived on Friday morning.
Within an hour the exposed area had been halved by rising waters.
A man who was trying to help with rescue had also been removed from the scene by police.
Mike Clulee's partner owns the two-year-old female horse, and the land above the river.
He said he is unsure how the horse got down to the river.
"God knows. Who knows. It's pretty steep. I think it probably fell."
He said they found out at about 8:30 this morning that the horse was on the beach
"It's just a shock to have so many people on the property. It's pretty quiet out here," Clulee said.
He said the water levels were high, but not the highest he has seen them.
"As soon as you get heavy rain it goes up pretty quick, but it also gows down very quick."
* The helicopter rescue was funded by Wellington SPCA. Donations to the SPCA can be made at: http://www.wellingtonspca.org.nz