A 72-year-old man was winched out of steep bush on a popular walking track in Whangarei after he collapsed with a suspected cardiac arrest.

The Northland Rescue Helicopter crew were called because of the steep and difficult access to the site on Drummond Track on Parihaka after the alarm was raised about 10.18am yesterday.

The helicopter took off from the base on the edge of Kensington Park and flew a loop of bush-clad Parihaka before locating the spot to lower a paramedic down through a gap in the bush canopy.

Pilot Steve Couchman said the patient was then placed in a harness and winched into the helicopter about 11.10am and flown directly to Whangarei Hospital.

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"It was a relatively easy winch and only a few minutes to get to the hospital."

St John staff had parked an ambulance in the carpark near the lookout and had walked down the track to help the man on the ground before he was lifted out.

About 15 people watched the action from the viewing platform at the top of Parihaka.