A tourist injured after a landslide came down on him near Cape Kidnappers tried to cover his friend with his body as rocks pelted them.
Jungho Son, 29, and his friend from Korea, a woman in her 20s, were on their way back to Clifton after visiting the famous gannet colony on the cape when his friend saw dust starting to come off the cliff.
"I could see the big part of the cliff, parting and start to slide down and I thought 'oh shit' it's really collapsing," he told media from his hospital bed on Monday.
A man who was caught in a landslide near Cape Kidnappers has spoken for the first time about the incident which injured him and a woman. Photo / Supplied
Son grabbed his friend's hand and rushed towards the sea. A skiier, he's seen avalanches, and decided it was the only way to get further from the collapse.
"The rumbling sound got louder and louder. Then my friend tumbled. I tried to reach my friend. I almost reached my friend, almost covered my friend, I could place myself a little bit behind her.
"I thought a little bit like I couldn't make it.
"I was hit by rocks, kept getting hit by rocks. As soon as it was done I tried to get to the surface, I tried to find my friend.
"Maybe a second later, my friend popped up through the surface. It was really lucky we could both swim and we were not covered by rocks."
Numerous helicopters, ambulance and fire engines were deployed to help with the rescue of the pair just after 2.30pm on Wednesday, January 23.
They sustained significant pelvic and leg injuries and were flown to Hawke's Bay Hospital.
The woman, who was initially in a critical condition, is now stable condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital. So too is Son.
Since the incident, access to Cape Kidnappers has remained closed.
Son said he wanted to say thank you to all the people who helped them get to shore and then into the rescue helicopters to hospital.
"We were really lucky. I'm a tourist here, I'm going home and there will be no way for me to say thank you once I'm there."
A Hastings District Council spokeswoman said it would not make any decisions on whether or not to re-open access from Clifton Beach until it receives the geologist's report, which will include potential risks in the area.
In the meantime, public safety remained a priority, and people were instructed to stay away from this area until further notice.