British surfer punches shark in New Zealand attack

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A British surfer protected himself from a shark attack in New Zealand by punching the animal in the face.

Darren Mills had a lucky escape after the shark, thought to be a sevengill or a great white, latched onto his leg while he sat on his surfboard 50 metres off shore at Porpoise Bay, in the Catlins area of eastern Southland, on Friday evening.

He suffered three deep gashes on his thigh and calf, and was airlifted to Southland Hospital, where he is said to be in a "satisfactory condition".

Mills, 28, is originally from the Crawley, West Sussex, but has lived in Queenstown for several years.

Catlins Surf School owner Nick Smart was surfing about 100m from Mills when the shark attacked. He told the NZ Herald a holidaying off-duty doctor and nurse came to Mills' aid before emergency services arrived.

He said: "The doctor told me [Mills said he] was sitting on the board and the shark bit his leg, so he punched it. He managed to stay on his board and catch a wave in ... you could see blood, and he was definitely in a bit of pain."

According to the Mirror, he added: "His friends helped him when he got to the shallow part. He was in a lot of pain and wasn't saying much.

"I could see a cut in his wetsuit. It looked to be a 10cm gash in one leg. I've surfed the bay thousands of times and done thousands of instructions and thought of it as safe as a church."

From bite marks on Mills' surfboard, it was estimated the shark was between two and three metres in size.

The news comes just a month after doctor James Grant fought off a shark attack with a knife while spear fishing in New Zealand.

He stitched up his own wounds before heading to the put for a beer.

And, just this weekend, a man was killed by a great white shark while spear fishing in Australia.

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