Lifeguards say if they hadn't rescued 10 Korean fishermen cut off by a rising tide in Port Waikato there would have been fatalities.
The group was fishing off a rock at the southern end of Sunset Beach about midday when the local lifeguards spotted them and realised they were in severe danger.
Seven lifeguards swam out to the group and took them to a safe area but it was too dangerous to make it all the way back to the beach.
The lifeguards then called the Westpac helicopter to pick the group up, which it did in three trips.
Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service president Malcolm Beattie says the fishermen are lucky to be alive. He says they had no idea of the danger they were in in the notoriously dangerous area.
"They had no idea that the tide was actually coming in and they would be locked off from the land, and it wasn't until the tide did come in they turned round and thought, ooh, we'd better go back," he says.
"They couldn't get back. They were quite oblivious to their very, very precarious position."
Mr Beattie says it is essential that people who are not familiar with the area find out the tide times before setting out.