Two kayakers have been rescued after a scary encounter with sea lions left them trapped on the rocks.

A group of three people were kayaking along the coast near Balclutha, when they were scared by sea lions in the water and became stuck near the cliffs at Nuggets Point.

One person managed to make it safely back to shore on their own.

But the other two sought shelter on some rocks, and couldn't get back to shore due to rough sea conditions.

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Police were alerted to their plight at 11.30am.

The first tactic was to send in a rescue boat and jetski, but they were unable to reach the kayakers because of large swells.

It took until 1.30pm for a rescue helicopter from Dunedin to reach the pair, and winch them to safety.

The two kayakers, both women, have since been taken to Balclutha Hospital and treated for minor injuries and mild hypothermia.

Police describe their rescue as a "lucky escape".