A soaked young driver swam away from his sinking car and managed to crawl up the bank of the Ohinemuri River in the Karangahake Gorge with little more than a few scratches yesterday.
His car needed to be retrieved from the river on the side of State Highway 2 near Wakino after he careered off the road following a collision with the rear of another car.
The second vehicle in the crash was crumpled, and overturned on railway lines, but incredibly the father, son and grandfather inside were mostly uninjured.
"They were pretty lucky, actually," Waihi Volunteer Brigade chief fire officer Moe Stevens said.
"There were no serious injuries at all."
Stevens said the young driver was "a bit shaken up" but was lucky to have escaped his car, which ended up completely submerged in the river.
The three generations in the other car were driving home to Wakino when the crash happened about 3.30pm yesterday.
Traffic was delayed in the area for a short time as the scene was cleared.