A man has suffered serious spinal injuries after falling from the back of a ute while hunting.
The Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter was sent out the 42-year-old Whakatane man at Lake Tarawera about 1am.
He had been hunting in the nearby forest when he fell off the ute, sustaining serious spinal injuries.
He was stabilised at the scene by Whakatane-based St John Ambulance medics before the decision was made to fly him directly to Auckland's Middlemore Hospital due to the serious nature of his injury.
This was the fourth mission for the Tauranga rescue helicopter since midday on April 20.
The first call was a maternity transfer from Tauranga Hospital to Waikato hospital, followed by medical pick ups from Waihi Beach and Whangamata. Both patients were flown to Waikato hospital for treatment.