Cruise passenger choppered to hospital

A passenger aboard a visiting cruise ship was flown to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter in a moderate condition.

A Maritime New Zealand spokesman said it alerted the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) to a call for assistance from a cruise ship off Taiaroa Head, near Dunedin, about 9.25pm on Friday.

The vessel, which was not named by Maritime New Zealand, had an unwell passenger on board who needed to be transported to hospital for medical attention.

The RCCNZ tasked a Dunedin-based rescue helicopter to winch the patient from the vessel and transport them to Dunedin hospital, the spokesman said.

A Hato Hone St John spokeswoman said the patient was in a moderate condition.

Helicopters Otago Ltd chief executive Graeme Gale confirmed his company aided in the incident and said emergency evacuations from cruise ships were not uncommon.

"There’s thousands of people on a ship and there’s always a number that end up sick or unwell that need to be evacuated, and sometimes it’s just not appropriate to go into a harbour or a wharf.

"It’s very easy to just go and pick up that patient and give them the care they need."