NZ Local News

Bethells Beach fisherman winched off rocks by Westpac Rescue Helicopter in dangerous seas

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Police say a fisherman is “incredibly lucky” to be alive after a harrowing ordeal in which he became stranded on rocks at an Auckland west coast beach.

It has prompted a plea by police for fishermen to be “more aware of their surroundings” after the man had to be winched out of the water in a daring late-night rescue.

Police say last Friday just before 2am they were called to Bethells Beach after reports of a man stuck on the rocks.

From the Police Eagle helicopter, they could see the man stranded by the incoming tide.

Footage taken of the rescue shows large waves crashing over the man as the water slowly creeps higher and the waves get bigger. He struggles to hold on, moving from a crouching position to standing so his rescuers can spot him.

Police said the man is "incredibly lucky" to be alive after the daring late-night rescue.
Police said the man is “incredibly lucky” to be alive after the daring late-night rescue.

A second helicopter was called in with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter winching the man to safety.

Police Air Support Unit Supervisor Sergeant Mark Jamieson said responding police thought the situation would end in tragedy.

“Our team onboard Eagle were monitoring the dangerous conditions on the water,” Jamieson said.

“It is incredibly lucky our staff did not have to inform a family their loved one wasn’t coming home.”

Auckland Maritime Unit Senior Sergeant Garry Larsen said the incident has prompted pleas to rock-fisherman to be more aware of their surroundings.

“The combination of its remote location, slippery rocks, and unpredictable sea conditions creates a perilous environment even for the most experienced fishers,” Larsen said.

“We have seen too many tragedies unfold in such high-risk areas.”

Police said the man was "incredibly lucky" to be alive after the daring late-night rescue at Bethells Beach on Auckland's west coast.
Police said the man was “incredibly lucky” to be alive after the daring late-night rescue at Bethells Beach on Auckland’s west coast.

Larsen said the popular pastime can often be very dangerous and and lead to deadly consequences.

“Always wear a life jacket when rock fishing, even though you’re not out on the water,” Larsen said.

“Make sure you’ve checked tide and swell information before heading out, so you’re not caught off guard.

“You should also never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas.”

Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter Attending Air Crew Officer Callan Carn-Bennett said he sees “far too many” situations like this one.

“It’s important you know what you are doing and know how to use your gear before attempting to fish from rocks in areas that may be too risky,” Carn-Bennet said.

Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.

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