A fisherman who fell from a cliff onto rocks near a popular fishing spot east of Auckland is now stable and recovering in a ward at Middlemore Hospital.

The man, believed to be aged in his late 40s, was described as "lucky" to have survived the fall, from the walking track at Sugar Loaf Point, also known as Snake Gully, in Kawakawa Bay at around 10:30 am on Sunday.

He is estimated to have fallen up to 10 metres, after initial reports claimed he fell anywhere between 20m and 50m.

The incident sparked a dramatic rescue operation, pulling in the Fire Service, ambulance, Coastguard and the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter.


The man was walking to the fishing spot, down a "well-trodden path", when he slipped and fell at a particularly narrow and slippery section of the track, Peter Legg, station officer at Kawakawa Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade, said.

His fishing tackle and bait could be seen in the grass where he lost footing.

There was no railing at the section where the man fell, Mr Legg said.

"There was a fisherman already down there, and he went off for a wander to stretch his legs, and he found the guy. So he could have been there for a little while."

Mr Legg added: "He went off for a walk and heard him, more than saw him."

He said the chopper dropped a paramedic off and together with the ambulance staff tended to the man.

19 Jun, 2016 11:55am
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"We put him in a sling and carried him out to a point where the chopper could come and winch him off, and they took him around to what we call Waititi Bay, which you can actually see from where he fell, and got him into the back of the helicopter and away they went."

He was "a lucky man", Mr Legg said.

Despite the lack of railing and slippery nature of the path, Mr Legg said: "We don't get a lot falling over there.

"But it's one of those things where I suppose if you look out to sea or something you'd probably miss where you're supposed to go, which is easy because there's a lovely view from there."