Tony Gibbs and family got more than sun when they visited a North Taranaki beach on Christmas Eve – they helped rescue a 4X4 which was being swallowed by the sea.
Gibbs, who had come to New Plymouth to visit wife Tracey’s family for the holidays, had gone to Ōnaero beach, about 20 minutes north of the city, on Sunday afternoon when he saw the stricken vehicle.
“The waves were already halfway up the car,” the Australian said.
“Another five minutes, the car would have floated away.”
Two men had been using the 4X4 to pull a boat out of the water when the vehicle became stuck in the sand, Gibbs said.
Gibbs, his wife, two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law, rushed over to help.
“The guys were trying to push it out and the girls went to get driftwood to put under the tyres.
“But the driftwood just drifted away, because that’s what it does.”
A second car drove on to the sand and tied a rope to the stricken 4X4 to pull it out.
“But then that car got stuck,” Gibbs said.
The second car was quickly rescued and then the 4X4 was freed with the help of about a dozen people, Gibbs said, with his brother-in-law, Sam Gurtman, “really putting his body on the line”.
Gibbs said it felt good to be part of a group of “nice people” coming together to help others but it could have easily had a terrible ending.
“Looking back it was a bit dicey,” he said.
“But it all worked out in the end and makes for a good Christmas story.”