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A South Canterbury man was "fairly agitated" after getting trapped in a clothes dryer at the weekend, say his rescuers.

The 42-year-old man had been drinking at a property in Waipopo, 17km northeast of Timaru, when he tried to climb into the dryer to retrieve some underwear about 6.30pm on Saturday.

An ambulance, a police officer, and two fire appliances were called to the address after the man's head, arms and shoulders became stuck in the machine.

"He got in through the door of the dryer, his shoulders got stuck and he couldn't manoeuvre," Senior Constable Greg Sutherland told the Timaru Herald.

"Every time he tried to get out, the dryer came with him."

Mr Sutherland said the man was "fairly agitated" by the time rescuers arrived.

However, he was quickly freed by firefighters, two of whom held the machine, while two others pulled him out.

"We do entrapments ... this would be one of the more unusual entrapments," said firefighter Rooy Hoogenraad.

- NZPA