28 Apr 2017

'I haven't been back in surfing' - 2014 shark attack victim

12:50 pm on 28 April 2017

A man bitten by a shark in a Southland bay three years ago says he's shocked to hear a woman had been attacked at the same beach.

Darren Mills was a keen surfer before the shark attack.

Darren Mills said he had not been back surfing since the attack three years ago. Photo: Facebook

A French tourist in her 20s suffered a deep gash to her leg by a shark while out bodyboarding with her partner and another couple at Porpoise Bay, near Curio Bay in the Catlins, yesterday afternoon.

Darren Mills, 32, was bitten three times by a shark while out surfing in the area in 2014 and said he was shocked to hear the news.

He said it took about three months for him to recover from his injuries.

"I haven't actually been back in surfing. I've been in for a bit of a swim, dived into a couple of waves."

Mr Mills said the scars were all that reminded him now of what happened.

"I play football and still do my sports and stuff."

Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy said the shark was probably a sevengill.

The sharks could grow to three metres in length, and at this time of year they were commonly found close to shore in the South Island.

"They're a fairly big shark and they do eat large prey so they do present a bit of a risk.".

The woman was today in a stable condition in Dunedin Hospital.

A Westpac rescue helicopter comes in to land at Curio Bay

A rescue helicopter at Porpoise Bay yesterday. Photo: Supplied / Val Glendinning

Catlins Surf School owner Nick Smart told Checkpoint with John Campbell the woman never lost consciousness but suffered a gash to her leg.

"The emergency services were textbook stuff - they arrived quickly, the chopper showed up within about 30 minutes."

He and others at the beach did what they could to help her before emergency services arrived.

"I quickly went back to my office and got my stretcher, we put her on the stretcher, carried her up into my friend's house, which is right on the beach.

"They had the fire going so we brought her inside ... applied pressure on the wounds, and just basically waited for the ambulance and the helicopter to arrive."

He said though nobody saw the shark, it must have been one, given the kind of injury the woman had.

"It definitely wouldn't have been a seal or a sea lion - so there's not too many other options."