Mini the chihuahua was rescued by a team of 16 specialists after she fell 50m down a cliff onto a ledge near Orokawa Bay, north of Waihī Beach.

Sixteen rescuers from the combined Athenree and Waihī Beach Mayor View Volunteer Fire Brigade and the OceanaGold Mines Rescue were at the Orokawa Bay track within minutes on Thursday after Mini got herself stranded while out on a walk with her owners.

Emergency response co-ordinator Dave Oliver, who is a member of both the brigade and the mines rescue team, said the chihuahua had been playing with another dog when she lost her footing and "rolled and rolled" over the edge of the cliff.

"The size of the dog did throw us. It was something we hadn't encountered," Oliver said. "You anticipate a good family-sized dog."


Mines rescue team member Josh Foster was tasked with the rescue and Leroy Crawford-Flett as team captain was the technician on the rope, co-ordinating the rest of the mine rescue team behind.

Senior firefighter Buddy Harwood said the dog was "a bit confused" and described Foster as "a bit of a dog whisperer".

"She just looked like she wanted to come back up to her parents," he said.

The dog was so small that the team did not need to use the harness they had previously used for dogs.

The owners advised Foster to get low to win favour with the dog and he managed to just scoop her up. Both were pulled to safety by the haulage team.

"She was agitated and it took a while for him to win favour," Oliver said. "From the dog's perspective, here was a random guy turning up trying to get her to jump into a bag."

Both Harwood and Oliver said the rescue was a valuable live training scenario that everyone was happy to be part of.

"Honestly, it went so well," Harwood said. "It was so good to work in with the mines rescue team. They're such a valuable resource and very skilled rescuers.


"It's really important to use the resources you have around you. Even if it's not too much of a danger situation, it's good to bring them out so everyone can get to know each other, and it's the same with police and Coastguard."

Oliver, who has rescued dogs from cliffs before, agreed.

"It is a valuable resource to the community to retrieve pets and it's good for the team to experience a snapshot like a live training scenario. That's invaluable to us."