An injured caver has been rescued more than eight hours after falling at Harwoods Hole, the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand.
Police say they believe the 25-year-old Canadian woman injured her arms and hands and couldn't climb out without help.
In an intricate rescue operation she was brought out from the cave around 8:30pm on Tuesday and flown to Nelson Hospital by helicopter.
Her two companions were being walked out of the Starlight Cave system by rescuers.
The team of four rescuers took an hour to reach the fallen woman at the bottom of the cave northwest of Nelson, on the top of Takaka Hill at the Abel Tasman National Park.
The Fire Service and St John Ambulance were also involved in the rescue co-ordinated by Tasman police.
Police say a group in the area raised the alarm just after midday, but the remoteness of the area made communication difficult.
The 176-metre deep sinkhole drops to an underground river which flows into Gorge Creek and then into the Takaka River.
A local caver, who wanted to remain anonymous, says it's a "stunning but serious cave" and a must-do for keen people.
But, he added, it requires decent gear and a wealth of experience.
The hole is narrow and said to be notoriously hard to complete rescues in.
In 1995, a doctor was lowered down to a Christchurch caver with a badly fractured leg. The doctor stayed with him and administered morphine for 10 hours.
In December 2004, four cavers were forced to stay overnight after becoming lost. They went in at 9am and were rescued 30 hours later. It was the third rescue of the year.
At the time, Nelson Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sherp Tucker called for the hole to be closed to the public after repeated rescues, which they believe could have been avoided if the climbers were experienced.
In 2008, one climber was trapped at the bottom and two others were left dangling at different depths. The climbers were heavily criticised by Search and Rescue volunteers for their inexperience, biting off more than they could chew when they chose to enter the cave.