Three men have been discharged from hospital after being pulled from the surf by members of the public in a dramatic rescue at Piha Beach last night.
The incident unfolded at 7.30pm when a 47-year-old man got into trouble while swimming.
His son and a friend swam out to help but started struggling against the waves, said Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman Leon Ford.
"They all swallowed a bit of water. The dad was very close to giving up," he said.
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Two kayakers nearby paddled over and saved the men by pulling them from the water he said.
"If they hadn't been there they might have gone."
The 47-year-old was in a "bad condition", unresponsive but still breathing, said Mr Ford.
The other two men had mild hypothermia and problems breathing.
Surf lifeguards who had finished patrolling the beach were alerted to assist and the rescue helicopter arrived just before 8pm.
The trio were flown to Auckland City Hospital - the 47-year-old in a serious condition and the other two men in a moderate condition.
All three were discharged today.