A man has been airlifted to hospital after jumping off the top of Omanawa Falls.
St John Ambulance staff were called to the waterfall at 4.50pm and the 24-year-old man was eventually airlifted out of the falls at 7.40pm.
A TECT rescue helicopter spokesman said this evening the man had a "serious back injury" as a result of the impact of falling from a height of about 18m.
Steven, a Tauranga local, said he was hiking in the bush near the waterfall when the man injured himself.
"We heard the boom. It sounded bad," he said.
Steven said the man had climbed to the top of the waterfall to jump off but landed on his bottom, rather than his feet.
He resurfaced and was swimming across to a family member when shock set in, Steven said.
The man was in a lot of pain, was very pale and said he could not feel his feet by the time others at the falls pulled him out of the water.
When paramedics arrived swimmers helped lift the man on to a board and carry him across to the other side of the pool so he could be winched out.
Cory Barker, who was also at the falls, said about eight people formed a chain to pass him across.
TECT Rescue Helicopter pilot, Todd Dunahm, said a paramedic had to be "winched to close proximity to the patient" because of an overhanging cliff face.
It took about half an hour for the patient to be stabalised and brought to a position where he and the paramedic could then be winched into the helicopter.
The man was flown to Tauranga Hospital.
Omanawa Falls has been at the centre of much controversy with the council and residents trying to block access to the falls because of the dangerous climb in and out which has resulted in numerous helicopter call-outs over the years.