It was a case of deja vu for a specialist animal rescue team, as they abseiled down a hazardous gorge to rescue a dog trapped on a cliff face at a now notorious forest block in Mohaka.
For the third time in five weeks, members of the SPCA's National Rescue Unit (NRU) in Wellington successfully rescued a dog from a cliff near the tiny settlement of Kotemaori - this time just minutes before flood waters would have washed the canine away.
Speaking to Hawke's Bay Today, NRU technical rescue coordinator Gina Kemp said Patch, an 18-month-old Greyhound cross, fell off a ridge down a 60 metre cliff in swift water and by the time the NRU arrived, the dog had been stuck for three days.
"Where he'd fallen down into, it was into a river. At the top end there was a 20-metre high waterfall, below him, downstream there was another waterfall and the actual stream ran through sheer rock.
"With river like that when water starts coming off the hills, the water just goes up and it goes up very quickly. We knew we were forecast rain at lunchtime so we knew we couldn't get down quick enough to him that not only would he be washed away but a rescue would be just too dangerous."
Despite being an experienced rescuer, Kemp said she had to settle her own nerves half way down the abseil.
"Once you're in there the only way out is ropes, so it certainly gave me pause and I had to ask them to stop for a second while I collected myself.
"I knew it could be done but I still recognised it as a very hazardous situation. It was a real concern he would get washed away."
Patch was found cowering and it took some time to coax him, but otherwise, remarkably, he had escaped the fall unscathed.
He was harnessed up and the responder and Patch were hauled to the top where a very grateful and emotional owner waited.
"It was certainly one of the more technical and high risk rescues the NRU has done lately, but the team did impeccably, finding solutions to issues encountered due to the terrain, and conditions.
"Shortly after the team had de-rigged and began their walk back to the vehicles, the rain started to come down. Had we not got there when we did, and got him up, the river flooding in a matter of minutes due to the topography of the gorge would have meant Patch was lost to the water."
It is now the third time in five weeks the Wellington-based rescue team have visited Kotemaori.
"I thought someone was pulling my leg at first, the coincidence was just unreal," Kemp said.
They rescued another dog last Tuesday.
The dog, Chase, a 2-year-old Huntaway, and fallen down a steep hillside and down a small cliff on the family farm on Monday morning.
In May, two dogs became stuck in the Skudders Ridge area, in the same forest block but some distance away from today's rescue, after also falling down a gorge.
On that occasion, a failed rescue attempt by the dogs' owner ended in emergency services launching their own four-hour rescue effort to free him when he too became trapped.
A six-member NRU team then successfully recovered the dogs.
Kemp said she thought the coincidence of the callouts to Kotemaori was down to the success of that first rescue and people knew that there was a service like the NRU that could rescue the dogs.