A significant police presence is in place in the Victory area of Nelson where a woman was beaten and raped on Tuesday afternoon.
The 62-year-old received substantial head and facial injuries, as well as lacerations and bruising to her body, during the attack in the Victory community gardens at about 2.30pm.
Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge, who is in charge of the investigation, says the attacker is a risk to himself and the community, and should hand himself in.
He said the scene where the attack occurred is visible from a popular walkway and it's likely people would have been using the walkway as the attack occurred.
Mr Langridge said police want to speak to anyone who may have seen or heard something relevant to the investigation.
Police are looking for a dark skinned man, possibly Maori or Polynesian, with short hair and tribal tattoos on both arms.
Police hope to speak to the woman, who remains in hospital, on Thursday.