A man who miraculously escaped a 6m cliff plunge says he is thankful he didn't hit a pedestrian when he lost control of his 4x4 near a popular walkway.

Nathan McDonald was driving up Beach Rd in Castor Bay on Auckland's North Shore yesterday afternoon when he spun out of control and teetered on the edge of a steep bank before slipping over.

The 25-year-old builder's Nissan's tyres skidded on the centre line, sending the car sideways across the footpath and down the steep drop.

"As far as crashes go, it was the best possible result," McDonald said. "I was so happy there was no one walking along the road when it happened." The car felt as if it was going "in slow motion". He held tight to the steering wheel and swore uncontrollably as the ute mowed through flax and shrubs before hitting a tree.

Advertisement

The Mairangi Bay local was shaken but not injured and managed to climb out of his vehicle and was helped up the bank by nearby residents who rushed to the scene.

It took the Fire Service more than an hour to wrench the 4x4 up the cliff and back onto the road. The insured car was extensively damaged.

Local residents said near misses were common along the steep and winding road and better barriers and a wider footpath were needed. It was popular with families walking down to Castor Bay reserve, marina and beach.

Alice Hawkins said people were forced to walk on the cliff side of the road on the only footpath. "It is pretty scary sometimes because the footpath is narrow and cars come down the road pretty quickly."

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the road was slippery, falling away and needed attention. He wanted lower steel barriers installed.