A couple had their car swept a kilometre down a river and clung to a chilly bin before hauling themselves to safety during the storm that hit the Coromandel on Wednesday.
The couple, known only as Molly and Oscar, had to grab on to a tree to stop themselves from being swept downstream when the campsite they were staying at in Coroglen flooded, Fairfax reported.
Ian Eggleton, co-owner of the camp, told Fairfax the couple had been travelling around the Coromandel before they stayed at his camp in Rangihau Rd near Whitianga.
A dam near the Pinnacles broke about 4am on Wednesday, causing the Waiwawa River to pour into the field where the couple were staying.
Eggleton said Oscar used his jersey to gauge the current of the river.
"He worked out that if they followed that they would hit trees and they could grab onto them," he said.
The couple put all their valuable possessions into a chilly bin, which they then used to float in the water.
"If they had missed the tree they were gone," Eggleton told Fairfax.
"So they hooked the tree and climbed up."
They spent two hours hanging on to the tree in the dark while the floodwaters surged around them.
"It's 5am and they were hearing trees exploding around them and huge trees crashing into their tree."
Eggleton told Fairfax he tried numerous times to rescue them.
"All I could say was 'you have to hold on. I can't get ya, you have to hold on I will come back'."
When day broke the couple were able to climb down the tree to safety.
The car they were using, which belonged to Molly's mother, was swamped by branches a kilometre away.
Eggleton said the pair were "pretty cool, calm and collected".
"I just couldn't believe they were still alive."