Farmer attacked by wasp swarm

Janet Kelland was airlifted to Taumarunui Hospital where she spent last night. She hopes to be released today. Photo / Westpac Rescue Helicopter
Janet Kelland was airlifted to Taumarunui Hospital where she spent last night. She hopes to be released today. Photo / Westpac Rescue Helicopter
A Waikato farmer had to walk 45 minutes for help after she was stung at least 50 times in the head by wasps when she stepped in a nest on a remote block of land northwest of Taumarunui.

A "really, really sore" Janet Kelland last night spoke to the Herald from her bed at Taumarunui Hospital after the ordeal which began about midday yesterday on the farm she part- owns.

The 56-year-old was walking up the fenceline of a paddock, checking that an electric fence was free from weeds and obstructions.

Moments later she stepped in a "big hole of wasps".

"They just attacked me ... I'm covered in stings. I probably got stung at least 50 times on my head ... and on my right leg, I would just hate to think."

Unsure what to do next, Ms Kelland whipped off her shirt - which she believed was attracting more wasps - and threw it to the ground.

"They were following me and they were quite angry so I just went into the bush and rolled in the bush. I wouldn't want to go through it again."

She was able to get on her quad bike and drive a short distance in the direction of the farm house. However, she had to leave it and walk the rest of the way - a trek which took 45 minutes.

She had to stop walking often because of the immense pain in her legs. She made it to a creek and splashed water on the stings, providing some brief relief.

"[I was thinking] I just got to keep focused on my breathing and keep calm," she said.

"I was actually quite surprised that I did make it [to the farmhouse] because it was one hell of a walk out of there. But I just kept focused ... you just do it, don't you."

On the walk home she managed to phone St John which sent an ambulance and also alerted the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Ms Kelland was airlifted in a stable condition to Taumarunui Hospital, where she spent last night.

She hoped to be released today.

Pilot Dan Harcourt was one of the Westpac crew which flew Ms Kelland to hospital.

He said she was extremely agitated and in considerable pain when he first saw her at the farmhouse.

And it wasn't their first meeting. Mr Harcourt has twice before airlifted Ms Kelland to hospital, both times after she fell off her horse.

- Ben Irwin, NZ Herald 

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