Watch: 'Wrong place, wrong time' - large tree falls on rowing crew on Christchurch's Avon River

Young members of a Christchurch rowing crew have had a lucky escape after a large tree fell on their boat in the Avon River today.

The rowers were shaken, but received only minor injuries when the tree, estimated at up to 40 metres tall, came down on the Avonside Drive side of the river, a Fire and Emergency spokesman said.

He said it wasn't yet known what caused the tree to topple over.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 5pm today and reported the boat was still in the water and pinned under the trunk.

The boat was carrying the Shirley Boys' High School under 15 squad of four rowers and a coxswain when the incident happened.

Coach Josh Dolan and another coach, both aged 18, were cycling along the bank, coaching the squad when Josh said they "heard these cracks on this big tree".

"And I turned around... and you see this tree fall straight on the boat. It was pretty incredible but it was lucky that everyone got out of the water safely," he told 1 NEWS at the scene. 

Josh jumped into the water to help the boys, who were treated by ambulance paramedics for cuts and bruises.

"It was just wrong place, wrong time. The boat's still under the water and she's completely ruined. And one of our best boats as well. So not a good afternoon," Josh said.

Shirley Boys High School rowing coach Josh Dolan says it was lucky everyone got out of the water safely. Source: 1 NEWS