An early morning hunting trip turned to disaster for two women this morning when they had to be airlifted to Nelson Hospital.
The women were with another person on quad bike when the vehicle went over a steep bank in Manaroa Bay in the Pelorus Sound, throwing them into the water with serious injuries.
Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter pilot Barry McAuliffe said that a crew was called to the area at about 2am after the trio crashed. Two women, one a local Pelorus Sound resident and the other a visitor from Lyttleton, had serious injuries after the crash but the third person was able to raise the alarm.
"They were out hunting and were in an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) and had been riding down a road," he said. "The ATV left the road and went down a bank, about a 10m drop, and some of them had gone into the water.
"The third person walked out to get help from a farm, they phoned the police and they called through to ambulance and then we got the call through them."
A police spokeswoman said the three people were hunting on private land, using an off-road quad bike.
"They have gone off the side of a steep hill, landing in water. One person went to a nearby residence to raise the alarm and call for help.
"We were notified of the crash at around 1.50am."
She said both women had broken ribs and one also had the leg injury.
"Although police attended, because this crash took place on private land it is not a police matter."
The steep terrain meant that the helicopter was unable to land and the women had to be winched. One of the women had serious leg injuries and the other had chest and facial injuries.
McAuliffe said the women, aged 37- and 39-years-old, did not arrive at Nelson Hospital until closer to 5am - meaning they were in exposed and cold condition for hours.
"There was difficulty getting the women to the road because of the terrain."
However, other local residents had rushed to the scene to help, he said.
A Nelson Marlborough DHB spokeswoman said the 37-year-old was in a stable condition at Nelson Hospital and the 39-year-old had been discharged this morning.