Yuki Fujita, 28, from Kobe, went diving for crayfish on Saturday. When she surfaced early from the dive, she couldn't find her diving buddy, the dive group or their boat, local media reported Monday.
She had drifted 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) away from the party near Cook Strait between North and South Islands and was paddling for her life wearing her scuba tank and weight belt in heavy seas.
After 2-1/2 hours adrift, when Fujita, an experienced diver, was out of sight of land, a police search launch suddenly appeared close by _ as it sped to the search zone several kilometers (miles) away.
She was pulled from the water and only then realized how near she had come to death. The newspaper reported that about the time of the rescue back in Kobe, her mother, Mieko Fujita, was visiting the shrine at the family grave to pray, a prayer Mrs. Fujita believes helped save her daughter's life, AP reports.