A Dunedin man who got into trouble after going swimming while intoxicated was ''very lucky'', police say.
Search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Ian Martin said police were called at 1.40am this morning about a man who had gone swimming at Waikawa Harbour, in the Catlins.
A search and rescue operation was launched, which included the Waikawa Rural Fire brigade, commercial fishers, and a helicopter from Southern Lakes Helicopter.
The man, who was in his 20s, managed to swim ashore on the opposite side of the harbour, and crossed farm land in a remote area. He walked 6km in Progress Valley and found a house from which he reported he was safe, just before 3.30am.
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Sgt Martin said the man had been drinking with a group who encouraged him to swim to a moored yacht.
The man and his friends were ''very lucky this story didn't have a different outcome'', Sgt Martin said.
''It is never a good idea to go swimming in unfamiliar water, particularly at night and especially not if you have been drinking. Excessive drinking can affect your decision-making, it's important that everyone takes responsibility for keeping themselves safe,'' he said.