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A Hokitika man was lucky to survive after stumbling into an abandoned goldmine shaft near Arthurstown late yesterday.
Hokitika Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Harry Collett said the man, in his 50s, fell 8m into the water-filled shaft, which was otherwise 30m deep.
The man went off alone for a bush walk and when he did not return his wife became concerned and got their neighbour to help look for him.
The neighbour heard him yelling for help and alerted emergency services. A fireman was sent down the shaft with ropes to secure the man so he could be pulled out.
The rescue took a further 30 minutes.
"He was very lucky the 30m shaft had water in it. He fell into the water about 8m down and was clinging to the side of the shaft when we arrived."
Mr Collett said the man did not see the shaft as it was covered in bracken "and down he went".
"He is an extremely lucky man."
He was pulled from the water hypothermic and in mild shock and spent the night under observation in hospital.
"This was not the first time we have rescued someone from an abandoned mine shaft and it will not be the last," Mr Collett said as mine shafts were 'everywhere".