Two kayakers had to be rescued from the Motu river near Opotiki, after one of them slipped and was trapped on a boulder in the river on Friday night.
The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter was called from Taupo by the Rescue Coordination Centre after a signal was received from a personal locating beacon.
Pilot Nat Every said the kayaker was on a rock in a narrow gorge in the middle of a swift series of rapids.
The helicopter hovered for about 15 minutes before landing on a large boulder in the river bed.
Mr Every said a LandSAR team set up a rope anchor and pulled the man to safety. He had been on the rock for three hours.
Both men lost their kayaks and most of their belongings but were carrying the personal locating beacon and were able to send the distress signal.