Two people who were in a truck that plunged down the Manawatu Gorge were saved thanks to "heroes" who risked their lives, police have said.
The emergency services, along with Palmerston North City Council and the Philips Trust Helicopter were involved in the rescue on Friday morning.
A male driver and his female passenger were in a truck that plunged 50 metres down a steep ravine and into the Manawatu river.
Two police officers who were first on the scene made it to the truck and stayed with the driver for an hour, keeping his head above the water while the female passenger was rescued first.
“Our officers along with all the emergency services at the scene put their lives at risk today to rescue the man and woman who were in the truck," Inspector Sarah Stewart said.
The officers stayed with the driver in the water for approximately one hour keeping his head above water until the rescue helicopter arrived.
One of the officers was then winched out while the other was able to climb out of the gorge with the help of ropes and other staff.
The driver and passenger of the truck were taken to hospital to receive medical treatment along with the two officers, who were treated for hypothermia.
“I am incredibly proud of the actions of both officers, they are heroes," Inspector Stewart added.
"They went above and beyond the call of duty and put their lives at risk to save the life of the truck driver and his passenger.”
Will Foley, the Hawke's Bay Federated Farmer's president, told NZME that he thought it was impossible anyone could have survived the smash.
"All I could see was the chassis submerged upside down in the water," he said.
"I don't know how he survived. I was amazed when I saw him sitting on the truck and alive," Travis Quin, another motorist, told Fairfax Media.
Following the crash both lanes through the gorge were closed to traffic.
At 5pm on Friday the road was reopened but was under temporary traffic management overnight, with the road near the crash site reduced to one lane and controlled by traffic lights.