13 Jan 2017

Urgent air mission after sea lion bite

5:58 pm on 13 January 2017

A woman injured by a sea lion pup in the Auckland Islands has been safely airlifted to hospital in Invercargill.

New Zealand sea lion pups

Sea lion pups in the Auckland Islands. Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

Maritime New Zealand send a rescue helicopter 400km to the sub-Antarctic island group to pick up the woman.

She had been doing research on Enderby Island, swabbing sea lion pups' mouths, when she cut her finger about nine days ago.

The infection got worse and a doctor on a nearby cruise liner assessed the wound and recommended she be evacuated to hospital, as the treatment she had received so far had not worked.

Rescue Coordination Centre watch leader John Dickson said the 800km round-trip was a delicate operation due to the remoteness of the island.

The Southern Lakes helicopter refuelled on the island before returning to Invercargill with the patient late this afternoon.