Police say two tourists owe their lives to rescue teams who eventually plucked them from an Archway Island off Wharariki Beach late last evening.
The pair, a 30 year old woman from Australia and a 28 year old man from Croatia, got into difficulty while swimming in the area. They managed to make it to one of the Archway Islands where they were trapped by the incoming tide and deteriorating weather.
When Police arrived at the scene the pair were clinging to rocks about 20 metres up a cliff. LandSar and a Nelson surf rescue crew responded. Civilian helicopters were unable to assist due to the conditions and a Defence Force NH90 helicopter was deployed from Ohakea.
Nelson Surf Life Saver, Noah Hosie arrived on the scene with two other lifeguards at 8.30pm.
“When we arrived the air force had just done a couple of fly-bys but couldn’t get them. So they landed and unloaded their crew and eventually winched them off, it was a pretty big exercise really.”
Just before 9pm the pair were successfully winched to safety by the helicopter crew and taken to hospital in Takaka for treatment for hypothermia.
Sergeant Mal York said the efforts of the rescuers in atrocious conditions were outstanding.
“If the rescue effort last night had not been successful we could well be dealing with a tragic loss of life,” he said.