Shortly after 9am yesterday emergency services were called to Smaills Beach, in Dunedin, after two divers got in trouble in the water.
Police said the two men had been paua diving in the area when the tide changed.
A 34-year-old diver was able to make his way to shore, but the other diver, a 60-year-old man, was swept out with the tide, Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond, of Dunedin, said.
"The 60-year-old diver did the right thing and dropped his weight belt, lay on his back and trod water to conserve energy until emergency services arrived," he said.
An ambulance, surf lifesavers and a helicopter also responded to the incident.