A Wellington teenager who fell more than 100m down a steep cliff will live to tell the tale.
Max Hurd, 17, was on a family walk with his uncle and cousins near the Deliverance Cove track in the Wairarapa on Saturday, a day after his birthday, when he decided to run up a nearby hill.
As he reached the top of the hill, the teen became ill and started to vomit. His uncle, who was standing at the bottom watching him, rang him to ask if he was all right.
Moments later, the young man fell forwards and lurched off the cliff as his uncle watched on in horror.
Max's mother, Svea Cunliffe-Steel, said her brother quickly called emergency services after seeing Max fall before racing to find him.
"He knew it was going to be bad whatever it was and then went running to find him and at the same time somebody at the beach saw him fall and managed to find him," she said.
Mrs Cunliffe-Steel was alerted by her 9-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew who were sent running back to the house, where the family were staying, to find her.
By the time she arrived at the scene, her bruised and battered boy had been strapped to a stretcher and was being prepared for transfer to hospital.
Max was taken to Wellington Hospital by helicopter where he was rushed into emergency.
When Mrs Cunliffe-Steel arrived almost three hours later she was told of the extent of his injuries and feared her son might never walk again.
"They told me he had broken his neck and his back in several places and ribs and a number of other injuries," Mrs Cunliffe-Steel said.
Despite the extensive injuries, however, Max's spinal cord is unharmed, meaning he will walk again.
Mrs Cunliffe-Steel said her son was extremely lucky to still be alive. They do not know how he fell, but believe he could have fainted.
"He is very, very swollen but he is alive. He could have gone off the other side of that cliff and straight down into the sea. He could easily have died or be paralysed but he is so lucky around that, although he has got serious injuries, they are not life threatening," she said.
But Mrs Cunliffe-Steel said the timing of the accident was "terribly cruel" because her son had been due to start at equestrian school today.
"I am not sure what we are going to do about that. It is very sad for Max and he has probably got a long road to recovery but he is alive so that is all that matters really."