Key Points:

The rescue of an injured cruise ship crew member is believed to be New Zealand's longest-range helicopter rescue.

Two helicopters from Otago and Southern Lakes set out from Invercargill at 11am yesterday, flying 800km to rescue the man.

The man, who had sustained a serious hand injury aboard the MS Bremen, a German passenger liner, was winched to safety about 3.30pm.

The choppers stopped at Campbell Island to refuel, before flying the man to Southland Hospital in Invercargill, arriving at 8.45pm.

He was in a stable condition last night.

The Bremen had been about 80km south of Campbell Island which is 700km south of New Zealand.

Rescue Coordination Centre spokeswoman Sophie Hazelhurst said they were first alerted to the accident on Friday, but the ship was too far away to rescue the man.

She believed it was the greatest distance travelled from New Zealand to carry out a rescue mission by helicopter.

There were risks involved with long-range rescues but they were carefully managed, Ms Hazelhurst told the Southland Times.

"That's why we send two helicopters, so that you've always got a watching helicopter.

"While there are risks involved they're not asked to put themselves at risk so it's carefully planned so that everyone will be safe throughout the rescue."

Both helicopters were equipped with a winch system in case one malfunctioned, she said.

The Bremen left Bluff to tour the Antarctic on January 15 with 110 mainly German passengers aboard.