A 1-year-old baby was left unconscious and stopped breathing after a wooden gate toppled on to him at a rural property.

Ashton Middleton was playing with four cousins on a verandah under the care of their grandmother, Lucy Watson, at his uncle's Kahutara home, when one of the children climbed on an unhinged gate. The gate crashed on to the baby, leaving him blacked out, Ms Watson said.

"One of my grandchildren was on the other side [of the gate] and stood on the gate and the gate came down and fell on his chest," she said.

Ashton's parents, Michael and Nina Middleton, from Palmerston North, were in the region for a break during the school holidays. They were at Ngawi fishing at the time but the baby's uncle, Stephen Middleton, had come home for lunch.


Ms Watson said Ashton "blacked out" and stopped breathing briefly, but came round while his uncle was holding and talking to him. She said she panicked and tried to call the emergency services, but Mr Middleton was calm and took control of the situation over the phone. By the time the helicopter arrived, Ashton had come round and was asking for food.

"All he wanted to do was cuddle his uncle," said Ms Watson.

Ashton was taken by Westpac rescue helicopter to Wellington Hospital, where he was quickly joined by his parents. Ms Watson said the boy was bruised but was otherwise showing little sign of the ordeal.

"By the time he [Michael] got to my grandson, he was eating ice-blocks," she said. "He was running around and still being Ashton."

Another accident resulted in a 53-year-old man also being airlifted to Wellington Hospital on Sunday.

The man and his young son were tramping in the Tararua Ranges when the man injured his knee. The pair spent the night at the Tutuwai Hut, before members of another party tramped out to cellphone coverage and raised the alarm.