Kiwi is recovering in a Mexican hospital after he was allegedly drugged, kidnapped and beaten at a tourist hotspot two weeks ago, Fairfax is reporting.
Tahne Godkin-Burke described a "nightmarish" ordeal in an interview from his hospital bed.
The 30-year-old said he was beaten in a faeces-covered "torture cell".
Mr Godkin-Burke claimed he was handcuffed to a rail and viciously beaten by men who he believed were police officers. He was able to use his phone to message loved ones to tell them what happened, and to say goodbye.
"I thought this is it, I'm going to die."
The Timaru man left New Zealand in January, travelling to the United States and buying a car before driving to Mexico. He based himself on a beach about 20 kilometres from the border city of Tijuana, he told Fairfax.
His adventure took a turn for the worse when he headed to Tijuana to "get a feel for the nightlife" but claims he had his wallet stolen by police offices when they searched his car for drugs.
With no money to carry on his trip, he went back to the beach and began selling "small amounts" of marijuana obtained from American friends, he told Fairfax.
He was unaware he was encroaching on the turf of a drug cartel, he said. A few days later, he claimed he began to have heart palpitations after he was given a marijuana joint by a friend. The friend told him he had laced the joint with another drug on the orders of cartel members.
Fearing he was dying, Mr Godkin-Burke jumped in his car and sped into Tijuana to go to a hospital. He stumbled out of the car and claims he was then then taken to "an impromptu torture cell" by police and repeatedly beaten before being taken to a municipal jail.
He was released 48 hours later and transported by ambulance to hospital.
A staff member at the medical facility confirmed to Fairfax Mr Godkin-Burke's injuries and that he was picked up from a police station.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the ministry was following up on Mr Godkin-Burke's situation through the New Zealand and British embassies in Mexico.