Tourist left with 'deep gash' after suspected shark attack

A tourist has been injured after a suspected shark attack in Southland on Thursday afternoon.

It's understood an attack took place at Curio Bay in the Catlins, in the far southeast of the South Island, at around 2:15pm.

Catlins Surf's Nick Smart told Newshub the victim was a French tourist in her 20s, who was bodyboarding with several other friends when a shark bit her leg.

Her friends then had to drag her from the water as emergency services raced to the beach.

He said the woman had "a very deep gash to the back of the leg", but was stable and talking when she was loaded into the helicopter.

"I kept looking at the beach and thinking something wasn't right, and I looked again and I saw someone running so I quickly got in my car, drove down there and it was a shark attack," Mr Smart said.

He helped them bring her on a stretcher to his friend's house nearby, where they kept her warm by a fireplace while administering first aid.

"She was very lucky really to have the ambulance and the helicopter arrive so soon," Mr Smart said.

It's not known what type of shark attacked, but there are great white and blue sharks in the area.

An Otago rescue helicopter was sent to Curio Bay, where it's believed the victim is in a moderate but stable condition.

In 2014, Darren Mills fended off a shark while surfing at Porpoise Bay, near Curio Bay. The shark punctured his leg three times.

The region is rich in marine wildlife. Dolphins, sea lions, fur seals and yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho can be seen in the area.