A British backpacker living the 'Kiwi dream' has been left paralysed from the chest down after falling four metres from the top of a ladder.

Matthew Williamson, 30, has been working as an industrial abseiler - which involves skilled rope technicians operating in hard-to-reach locations - in New Zealand for the past two years.

But disaster struck on November 28 when he severed his spinal cord after he fell from a ladder while on the job, the Daily Mail reports.

Now friends and family are raising money to get their beloved Williamson home to Newport, south Wales - and have already raised more than £10,000 (just over $19,200).

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Williamson had been working when he hit his head on a hatch door. The impact knocked him out and he fell from the ladder.

His sister, Danielle Williamson, said: "The idea of trying to raise as much money as possible for my brother was that of his friends in New Zealand.

"Obviously the entire family are devastated at what has happened to my brother.

"He fell four metres off a ladder which is quite a way up. We are thankful to everyone who has donated money. It means a lot to us.

"The money is going to be going towards a flight to get him home. It will cost quite a bit."

Williamson is being treated in Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, with the support of nurse girlfriend Justine Bennett, 26.

Friend Scott McKeon said: "Understandably he wants to come home after what has happened in Auckland.

"He has been left paralysed from the chest down - but he can move his arms which is great. He is currently at a spinal rehabilition centre.

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"He can only fly once he has had rehabilitation. That should take about three months - that is what we are all hoping for and so is Matt."