An Australian tourist spent seven hours trapped about 80m up a cliff near Russell before he could be hauled to safety by a specialist rescue team.

The drama began about 1pm on Monday when a New South Wales couple was attempting to walk around the coast from Long Beach to Tapeka Pt, in the Bay of Islands.

Caught by the incoming tide, they tried to scramble up a cliff at Pukematu Pt but it was more rugged then they anticipated.

Emergency services at the top of the cliff between Tapeka and Long Beach in Russell. Photo / Stephen Western
Emergency services at the top of the cliff between Tapeka and Long Beach in Russell. Photo / Stephen Western

The head of Northland police Search and Rescue, Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe, said the 58-year-old New South Wales man ''got himself into a really bad position'' about 80m up the cliff and 90m from the top.

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His wife, who was a fair distance behind, managed to get down and raise the alarm.

Russell police and firefighters were the first to respond. It was not clear at first where the man was stuck but he was eventually spotted by a police officer at Tapeka Pt using binoculars.

The trapped man can be seen in blue at bottom left while the rescuers are at top right. Photo / supplied
The trapped man can be seen in blue at bottom left while the rescuers are at top right. Photo / supplied

Paihia Fire Brigade, which has a specialist line rescue crew, was called in but the man was too far down the cliff so the Northland Cliff Rescue Team was dispatched from Whangārei.

The rescue was challenging because the man could not be seen from the top of the cliff or from the shore, and parts of the cliff which weren't bare rock were covered in gorse and thick scrub.

On a second attempt rescuers were able to abseil down to the trapped man using two 50m ropes and secure him in a harness. They got him to the top by 8pm and gave him food and water. He did not require medical treatment.

Members of Paihia Fire Brigade's line rescue team at the top of the cliff. Photo / Stephen Western
Members of Paihia Fire Brigade's line rescue team at the top of the cliff. Photo / Stephen Western

Metcalfe said police had carried out a number of rescues around Tapeka when hikers had been caught out by the length of the walk and the tides.

The lessons from Monday's rescue were to check if a walk was safe before setting off and to avoid exceeding your abilities.

Northlanders were lucky they had a cliff rescue team that could respond when needed, Metcalfe said.

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