The Taranaki rescue helicopter had a busy day on Saturday with three calls, including winching three people off a rock at New Plymouth's Back Beach.
Two men and a woman had been caught in a rip and sucked to the back of Snapper Rock.
One of them managed to get around the rocks and was spotted by Dennis and Chris Little who had gone out for a picnic tea about 6.30pm.
They saw a man standing on the rocks waving, so waved back, Mr Little said.
But, then they realised he wasn't just being friendly and Mr Little rang the police.
"They were on the seaward side and we couldn't see the other two at any stage. This one young fellow did a pretty good job because he must have gone into the sea and onto a rock beside Snapper Rock so that he could be seen. Once he realised we had spotted him and were doing something about it, he went back into the sea and back onto the main rock where the others were."
None of the three were visible to police when they arrived, Mr Little said.
"It wasn't until the chopper arrived that they spotted how many there were."
Taranaki rescue helicopter crewman Jayden Strickland said the three had cuts from the sharp rocks. One of them was distressed.
They were on a rock to the western side of Snapper Rock.
Earlier the helicopter had picked up a day hiker from 300m below Syme Hut on Mt Taranaki.
The person was suffering a medical condition and had to be winched off the mountain, with the help of volunteer alpine rescue member Mike Johns, Mr Strickland said.
In the first job of the day a Taranaki farmer was flown to hospital after he rolled the quad bike he was riding.
The 57-year-old man flipped the bike on a track on Kaipi Rd in Hillsborough near Egmont Village about 2pm.
Mr Strickland said the bike rolled over the man once.
St John ambulance district operations manager Ian May said the man had moderate back injuries.
He said it had been a "difficult extraction" from the farm and the rescue helicopter had taken the man to Taranaki Base Hospital
- Taranaki Daily News
Testing drugs on animals is:Related story: Animal tests 'key' to brain disease cures