Two tourists are lucky to be alive after becoming stranded on a rocky island by an incoming tide in bad weather in Golden Bay.
A 30-year-old Australian woman and 28-year-old Croatian man were found in just their swimming togs, clinging to rocks 20 metres up a cliff on one of the Archway Islands.
The pair had got into difficulty while swimming off Wharariki Beach yesterday and managed to make it to the island where they were then trapped by the incoming tide and deteriorating weather.
Bad weather meant civilian helicopters could help and a Defence Force helicopter from Ohakea winched the tourists to safety around 9pm.
Both were taken to hospital in Takaka and treated for hypothermia.
Sergeant Malcolm York said the efforts of 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.
The rescue comes a fortnight after two other tourists were winched to safety after becoming stranded at the same spot when they were caught out by a rising tide.