A hunter rescued near Kawerau at the weekend in a dramatic almost eight-hour operation is today still in intensive care.

Part of the delay was a result of having to use a rescue helicopter from Whangārei capable of lifting a heavier weight.

More than 20 emergency staff were called to help with the rescue of the man who had fallen onto a ledge while hunting in Tarawera Forest on Saturday.

The 52-year-old fell on to a rocky ledge about 15km from Kawerau.


Emergency services, including the Whakatāne Land Search and Rescue crew, police and ambulance staff were called to the area about 4pm by a family member of the man.

He was taken to Tauranga Hospital just before midnight.

Police Constable John Fredericksen said communication was the first reason for the long rescue, but none of the delays were out of the ordinary.

He said every issue, like communication, location, and darkness could cause a delay.

"The position of the subject was such there was no direct communication. The informant had to leave the man to make the phone call," Fredericksen said.

"The delay was caused by isolation."

When police arrived the man had a medical assessment. Because of where he was police communication methods weren't working so police also had to leave the man to report back.

Fredericksen said rescue staff found the man lying on a ledge after the fall. They had to move him to a location where a rescue helicopter could send a winch into.

"Once we got the information to say we need a winch, we looked at what was available. The appropriate machine wasn't available so we had to go further afield."

The rescue helicopter from Whangārei had to be called in to help with the rescue due to the man's location and his specific needs.

The helicopter has an almost 80m winch line and can winch heavier weights.

"Once they got into the area and moved him a short distance, they got him onto the stretcher, put in a line, then the helicopter hovered above. They dropped a winch line and pulled him up," Fredericksen said.

Six police, 14 Land Search and Rescue staff were involved in the rescue, plus ambulance and helicopter staff.

The man was taken to Tauranga Hospital.

The Whakatāne man was this morning recovering in Tauranga Hospital's Intensive Care Unit. He is in a stable condition.