Footage of a dramatic rescue at a Dunedin beach yesterday shows a surfer being pounded by large waves as he struggles to get to safety.

In the video, a man with a red surfboard can be seen struggling to get to concrete stairs beneath the esplanade next to St Clair Beach.

He is battered by strong waves that splash up and over the rail, where a crowd has started to gather.

Suddenly, a man runs down the stairs and throws over a lifeline to the surfer, a piece of rope, yelling at him to grab it.


As another monster wave crashes into them, the rescuer holds on tight and manages to help the surfer up the stairs to safety.

The man who shot the video, Scott James, uploaded it on Facebook today. He told friends that the surfer, understood to be a German tourist, had had a lucky escape.

"Very close call for this guy. High tide is not a good time. Learn," he wrote.

Near the end of the video, the surfer can be seen sitting at the top of the stairs, catching his breath as the crowd gives him space.

His rescuer, later identified as local man Jeff Patton, grabs his shoulders and says, "Are you alright? You're f***** lucky, man. You could have been dead."

The surfer tries to explain he couldn't paddle towards the stairs.

Mr Patton grips his hand in a handshake and gives him some advice: "Oi, stay the f*** out of there when it's like that."

The tourist replies breathlessly: "Yeah."