A Canadian cruise ship passenger and "self-made man'' was in Dunedin for the day when he was knocked from his bicycle by a camper van in front of his shocked wife and began a battle for his life.

The cyclist, who has a serious head injury after the accident on Otago Peninsula on Saturday, remained in a serious but stable condition in Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit last night.

A police spokeswoman said the camper-van driver, a 34-year-old man visiting New Zealand was charged with careless driving causing injury, would appear in the Dunedin District Court today.

Canadian newspaper Le Journal de Montreal said the cyclist was Bernard Gendron.

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The 59-year-old was in an induced coma and had bleeding in four parts of the brain, broken ribs and a perforated bowel, the newspaper said.

He and his wife were cruise ship passengers visiting Dunedin on Saturday.

Gendron's wife, who was cycling with him, was not injured but was in shock when emergency services arrived at the scene.

Gendron is president and founder of Voyages Gendron, one of the largest travel agencies in Quebec.

His three children were travelling from Canada to be with him in Dunedin, the newspaper said.

His eldest son Marc Gendron told Le Journal de Montreal "the prognosis was not great ... But my father is an incredibly determined self-made man, so I know he will fight if he has the chance.''