A rescue helicopter had to winch a woman off a cruise ship in the Cook Strait shortly after midnight today.

Life Flight Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot Mike Beausoleil said the woman, in her 20s, had suffered a fall.

The crew had to use night vision goggles and winch a medic and gear down to the deck of the moving ship to stabilise the patient before winching the medic and patient back up to the helicopter.

They were called for the rescue about 12.30am.


Beausoleil said midnight missions were always complicated.

"Any operation at night is complicated and any operation over the water at night is especially complicated . . . the ship is pitching and rolling, we don't have any visual reference."

The patient was flown to Wellington Regional Hospital.