A man was minutes from drowning in a rising king tide when he was rescued after crashing on a beach.
The man rolled his 4WD on a beach about 7km north of Muriwai, West Auckland, yesterday.
"Considering that he was half hanging out the squashed window of his driver's door when he was found, with the tide coming in, covered in salt water and sand ... he's pretty good," an Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust pilot said.
The helicopter crew arrived at around 8pm as firefighters waded through rising water with the jaws of life to cut the man free. "The waves were coming up to the firefighter's knees, they were carrying on with cutting this guy out of the car."
The young man, about 20, appeared in shock. The roof of his vehicle had collapsed.
"He's a lucky boy," the pilot added. "The tide was coming in so quick."
Emergency services workers had little room to move, with the king tide swallowing up much of the beach. The fire service took a portable generator and used 4WDs to access the beach where the man was trapped.
The helicopter took the young man to Auckland City Hospital, where he was last night in a serious condition with chest injuries. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, parts of Auckland's waterfront were submerged yesterday as king tides raised sea levels around the country. Tamaki Drive was partially submerged just after 9am, and the North-western Motorway's cycle path was also breached by rising swells.
The Coastguard rescued three people stranded on rocks near Torbay on Auckland's North Shore. A spokesman said the group found themselves in trouble about 8:30pm when the king tide swallowed low-lying rocks around the tor, off Waiake Beach.
A boat was sent from Browns Bay to help the group.
In the Hawke's Bay, residents were on high alert for king tides accompanied by 40km/h winds.
The Junior Surf Carnival at Ocean Beach was cancelled after 4m waves were predicted. Civil Defence emergency management team leader Trevor Mitchell said warnings for the seaside town of Haumoana would remain in place for the rest of the day.
He hoped strong southerly winds would blow the swell away from the land from 8pm Saturday until 8am today. "We advised everybody about the tides. We've had signs warning of sea swells put up at entrances to coastal communities."