The wife of a 74-year-old whitebaiter swept out to sea in Canterbury on Sunday says her husband's fitness saved his life.
Don Lorking was fishing at the mouth of the Rakaia River when he was dragged into the sea at about 5pm.
He was wearing a lifejacket and was suffering from hypothermia when he was rescued by a helicopter about an hour later.
His wife, Cherry Lorking, says her husband spent 22 hours in hospital but is a very strong man for his age and she is proud of him.
Mrs Lorking says some people have asked her what he was doing at the river mouth at his age.
But she says this was an unfortunate accident and, if he hadn't been fit, he would have died.
Police have said Mr Lorking would have drowned if he had not been wearing a lifejacket.