A woman has been rescued from cliffs overlooking Kai Iwi Beach at Mowhanau, near Whanganui, this afternoon.

The woman clambered onto the cliffs after becoming caught in a rip while swimming shortly after midday, sparking a large emergency services response.

She was winched to safety about 2pm by firefighters who abseiled down to where she had become stuck.

Witnesses said the woman, 22, appeared to be uninjured.

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A friend told the Chronicle she was "chilled out the whole time."

Earlier Whanganui lifeguard Phil Gilmore confirmed the incident was unfolding shortly after 12pm on Tuesday.

Lifeguards launched rescue craft while Police and Fire and Emergency were also called to the scene.

Emergency services are at Mohwanau Beach where a swimmer is believed to be stranded on a cliff. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Emergency services are at Mohwanau Beach where a swimmer is believed to be stranded on a cliff. Photo/ Bevan Conley

A rescue helicopter was also called but was stood down after it became apparant the woman had managed to escape the rip and had made it to shore.

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Fire fighters prepare to hoist a stranded swimmer from a cliff at Mowhanau Beach north of Whanganui. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Fire fighters prepare to hoist a stranded swimmer from a cliff at Mowhanau Beach north of Whanganui. Photo/ Bevan Conley