A 50-year-old woman with back injuries had to be winched into a rescue helicopter and flown to Whangarei Hospital after slipping in a creek near Scows Landing on Ngunguru River.

Her companion had to climb a nearby ridge to get mobile phone reception to summon help after the woman fell into the creek during a walk at about 1pm yesterday.

A Search and Rescue operation was launched as details about the woman's location were sketchy, a police spokesman said. When they found her after a short search, the rescue team called for the airlift due to the woman's injuries and the difficult access to the site.