A child spending Christmas Day at Milford Sound had to be airlifted to hospital after supposedly eating toxic berries.

The youngster, whose age and gender have not been released, was taken to Southland Hospital as a precautionary measure yesterday.

A spokeswoman at Southern Lakes Helicopters, which was called to the scene, said they could not say anything more about the incident.

However, director Sir Richard Hayes earlier told Stuff.co.nz: "There was a child that had supposedly eaten some tutu berries. They're pretty poisonous - they can tip up animals as well if they eat them.''


Tutu (coriaria arborea) berries are considered to be a poisonous New Zealand shrub. It contains the toxin tutin, which can cause vomiting, seizures, blurred vision and in some cases, death.

Tutin contamination can also cause toxicity in honey when bees collect honeydew from passion vine hoppers that have fed on the berries.

It is not known if the child remains in hospital - or how long they were monitored for before being discharged, if so.

A Southland Hospital duty manager said they did not know of the case, so could not pass on any information about the child's condition.