A German tourist received nasty bites when he crossed paths with a "grumpy seal" at Abel Tasman National Park.
The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was called to the incident at Separation Point this afternoon.
The rescue service said the man "was taught a harsh lesson about New Zealand wildlife after he crossed paths with a grumpy seal".
"The 18-year-old man had been tramping in the park with a friend when he visited the point, and decided to take a swim off the rocks below the lighthouse.
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"Resident seals in the area took exception to his presence and attacked him, delivering nasty bite wounds to both lower legs."
The rescue service said the man was able to scramble free of the water and up onto the point, where a Department of Conservation ranger was able to assess him and call for help.
The man was treated by an intensive care paramedic before he was airlifted to Nelson Hospital's emergency department.
The incident was one of five call-outs within 24 hours for the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter, signalling an increasing workload leading into the holiday season.
Other calls included rescuing an injured tramper from the Heaphy Track, and three medical-related calls to Blenheim, Riwaka and Murchison.