Kiwi hiker Claire Nelson recovering after shattering pelvis in US desert

A New Zealand woman is recovering in a Californian hospital after spending three days stranded in a national park.

Claire Nelson was hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs when she slipped and shattered her pelvis.

At the time, Nelson believed she was going to die.

"I recorded messages on my camera saying goodbye to people, which is a really awful thing to do - but it just feels like you are being practical," she says.

During her three days stuck between two boulders, the Wellingtonian endured 35degC heat and was forced to stay hydrated by drinking her own urine.

"It's one of those things you see in movies... that is something I never want to have to do," she says.

"It's when you're faced with a situation like that and it's life or death, if I didn't drink my own urine, I was going to die."

House sitting for friends in California, they noticed her social media had gone silent and alerted authorities.

She is set to undergo major surgery in the next few days, with her New Zealand-based family flying over to support her.