A kayaker broke his own leg to avoid drowning when his upturned craft became stuck in a remote gorge in north-east Victoria.

The 38-year-old was winched out of the gorge today after his kayak had slammed into a fallen tree while he was white-water rafting in the West Kiewa River, near Mt Beauty on Sunday.

He was cared for overnight by emergency rescue workers and fellow kayakers.

Intensive care flight paramedic Anthony De Wit said the kayaker broke his own leg to free himself from the tree.

“The river flow was so great, he was trapped under the tree and broke his leg to free himself and avoid drowning,” de Wit said.

“Some of his friends went for help, while two others, including a doctor stayed with him.”

Ambulance Victoria spokesman said the man broke two bones in his lower leg as he wrenched himself free from his craft.

State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers, and police search and rescue hiked to the man with food and camping equipment and spent last night in the bush.

Parks Victoria flattened an area of bush to allow de Wit to be winched 50 metres down to an area beside the river Monday morning.

The injured man was placed into a stretcher and winched into the helicopter.

“It was a great team effort between the man’s friends, SES, police, Parks Victoria, and our helicopter crew to get the man out of the bush, to hospital for further treatment,” de Wit said.

The man was on Monday in La Trobe regional hospital in Traralgon in Victoria’s south-east.