A rescue helicopter has saved two tourists who were swept out to sea while swimming a Wharariki Beach near Farewell Spit this afternoon.

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was called to the isolated beach after other beach-goers noticed unattended belongings being caught in the rising tide.

The pair were spotted waving and clinging to a rock. Despite the tourists' position at the base of a high cliff face, the helicopter was able to winch an intensive care paramedic down to the couple. They were winched onboard the helicopter and flown to shore, where they were assessed for cuts and hypothermia.

The French man and Austrian woman were taken to the Golden Bay Medical Centre for assessment.