When 'the real life ugly duckling' got stuck in a drain, Ngongotaha's firefighters sprung into action to save the day and ensure a happy ending.

Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Service acting chief Francis Boag said the crew was waved down by a woman on the side of road on its way back from the Ngongotaha soccer club's 50th jubilee on Saturday.

"At first we thought it was a kitten but it turned out to be a duckling. It was stuck in a drain screaming its head off so we thought we'd better get into action.

"We got our pipe pressure delivery and gently put the hose down so we could fill it up with more water and the duckling could swim out.

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"We managed to scoop him up in a basket. It was a good outcome, a team effort. We took him back to the station to make sure he was alright and then we went down to the reserve to try and find his mum.

"We found them with a bunch of his siblings so now he's been safely reunited."

He said they had been calling him the ugly duckling as in the story where the duck was separated from his family and lost.

"He was like the real life ugly duckling - but he wasn't ugly of course," Mr Boag added.