Bridge plunge survivor: 'I'm luckiest man in Queenstown'

Adam Dear's vehicle submerged in the Kawarau River.
Adam Dear's vehicle submerged in the Kawarau River.
A Queenstown man says he feels lucky to be alive after his ute plunged 40 metres off a bridge and landed upside-down in the Kawarau river near Arrowtown.

Adam Dear, who was towing a trailer behind his vehicle on Monday, told Radio New Zealand he began fishtailing when he braked to slow down on the Gibbston highway as he returned from work.

His ute then mounted the barrier on the Victoria Bridge and rolled.

"It started to slow down and I kept thinking it's going to be the last roll and it's going to stop but then it rolled again,' he said.

Water rushed in when the vehicle hit the river and he wasn't able to see anything when everything went pitch-black.

He got his seatbelt off and pushed his way out of a window and through mud and water to reach the surface.

"All of a sudden I was underwater, just completely submerged ... I just thought I've got to get out."

He estimated was underwater for about 20 seconds.

Mr Dear needed a few stitches, but other than that suffered only whiplash, bruises and grazes.

"I'm definitely the luckiest man in Queenstown I think," he said.

"The seatbelt obviously saved me".

Arrowtown fire station station manager Greg Potter said yesterday that emergency workers were amazed he survived the crash.

He called it a miraculous escape.

"How the hell he got out, we're still shaking our heads," he said.

"That man should go and buy a Lotto ticket, but he hasn't got any luck left I don't think".