A new Dannevirke resident was lucky to survive when he was caught in a rip at Akitio Beach recently.
But thanks to the cool head of Dannevirke builder David Walsh, 29, the man whose identity is unknown was saved.
Walsh reckons he's no hero.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," he said.
A keen diver and surfer, Walsh was just back from a dive and relaxing on the deck of a bach at around 4.30-5pm when his friend with binoculars noticed something unusual out to sea, partially hidden behind the rocks.
"I looked, saw a hand up and ran and grabbed my surfboard," Walsh said.
"Because I've surfed out there for eight years, I know the currents at Akitio like the back of my hand. But the current was pretty strong and the guy was caught in the rip."
Walsh said he still doesn't know who the drowning man was.
"He was younger than me and had just moved to Dannevirke," he said.
"He was pretty buggered and if I hadn't got to him when I did he would have been gone. He'd swallowed a lot of water, but I got him onto my board, despite the strong waves.
"When we were in waist-deep water his friend came down to help. The victim was struggling to stand and breathing quite heavily."
Once on shore, friend and nurse Kelsey Newell was on the scene to help.
"She called local nurse Kate Ramsden, who rang 111 and the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter arrived to take the chap to hospital," Walsh said.
"While all this was going on my mate Nigel Baker was going over his CPR in his head, just in case."
Walsh said, for him his first instinct was to grab his surfboard when he realised someone was in trouble, but he said people need to learn what a rip is.
"The district council have put up new warning signs, but people who don't know the beach can get in trouble," he said.
"If I'm out on my surfboard I tell parents with children in the water to be careful. Everyone should be aware of the dangers."
Walsh learnt to swim when he was "young as" and said he likes the sea.
"But you've got to know your limits in the water," he said.
Walsh said he'd like to see some more public-accessed flotation devices available at Akitio and they're on their way.
Co-incidentally, the Friday before the near-drowning three weeks ago, Walsh's boss Peter Greatbatch, the chairman of the Akitio Ratepayers Association, had been having discussions with the Tararua District Council about just that.
"There is one at the fire station, but unless you are a local you wouldn't know it was there," he said.
"It's been a very busy summer on the beach and that chap was just lucky David was around."
Council chief executive Blair King said there had been a discussion on providing flotation devices for the beach area, with surf life-saving tubes the answer.
"It's important, so we'll make it happen," he said.
Two rescue tubes have been ordered, with one to be located at the Akitio Boat Club and the other at the toilet block.
"These tubes are easier to use in the event of a rescue, rather than rings," Mr King said.