A family of three runners had to be rescued today after becoming trapped by the tide on a steep ridge in the Bay of Plenty.

The Trustpower TECT rescue helicopter was dispatched about midday to Kohi Pt at Whakatane Heads, where the trio had been trapped for about three hours.

"They were running along the coastline when the tide came in," said Sergeant Ross Macrae of Whakatane police.

"They tried to avoid the tide and went up and over the ridge."

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Mr Macrae said the family were visitors to the district.

A rescue helicopter spokesman said the trio were running from Ohope Beach to Whakatane.

They were winched on board and flown to safety.