An Auckland rescue helicopter pilot warns a man who got stuck in mud in the Tamaki Estuary could've drowned.

The helicopter trust was called to the estuary in Point England just after nine last night to rescue the man who was stuck waist deep in the mud.

Pilot Dave Wally says the man walked out in low tide where the mud would've been firm to start with.

"And of course you get out further and start sinking in and before you know it you can't go anywhere. He was in no immediate danger, but the tide was coming in an eventually obviously he would've drowned."

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Dave Wally says the man was checked out by ambulance crews but he was able to walk away.

He says in those situations, there's always a risk of injuring people's shoulders as they're winched out of the firm mud.

"There's sometimes a real risk when you do winch somebody out of the mud like that, that they've got pretty stuck, and it can be quite painful for the poor guy when you winch him up because he's stuck, and you're pulling him out by his shoulders."

Dave Wally says it's possible someone from the shoreline spotted him and rang it in.

- NZ Herald