New Zealand triathlete Steve Gurney has had a bad crash during his attempt to cross the Sahara on a kite buggy.

The 46-year-old fractured his shoulder and jaw when the buggy was picked up in a gust of wind and smashed into a rock face.

Gurney also needed surgery to remove glasses which became embedded in his forehead.

It is not Gurney's first close shave. In 1994 he contracted severe leptospirosis when bat dung got into a gash in his leg, during an adventure in Borneo.