A 5-year-old Northland boy has a camping tale like few others to tell when he starts school in a week and a half.

Aron Hugo was bitten by an eel while playing in a shallow stream on a friend's farm in Tangiteroria.

He and his dad S.J. were on the farm camping with his friend and his friend's dad.

Aron said he and his friend were "having a race" with their dinosaur toys in the knee high stream when one dinosaur went into the deeper part and he headed over to get it.

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Next thing, he was screaming "something's biting me".

The eel left its mark on Aron Hugo. Photo / Supplied
The eel left its mark on Aron Hugo. Photo / Supplied

He started running out the water and S.J. saw the eel biting his leg, before letting go and darting back into the water.

Aron said the eel's teeth felt like sandpaper. The bite did bleed, but he reckons "it wasn't that sore, it just frightened me".

When asked how big the eel was, Aron stretched his arms as wide as they go.
But judging by the size of the bite - about 10cm long by 6cm wide - his mum Marguerite thought it could be about 1m long.

The bite surprised everybody.

"The people who live there didn't even know they had eels," Marguerite Hugo said.

The bite was cleaned with alcohol wipes and covered in antiseptic balm. Despite the ordeal, Aron still camped in the tent with his dad.

Although they didn't look for the eel in the stream after it happened, Aron is keen to head back and see if they can coax it out of its hiding spot, to perhaps see how big it really was.

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Marguerite Hugo said she doesn't think the bite is going to put Aron off water.

It turns out Aron's theory on why he gotten bitten - "it thought I was a meal" may not be too far from the truth.

River ranger Millan Ruka from Environment River Patrol Aotearoa said eels biting people is rare. He said at this time of year streams have a pretty low flow, which means very little food is moving through the stream.

Ruka said the eel may have mistaken Aron for food. He said there may also have been an element of protecting it's patch, as Aron was in its territory.

Ruka said it was unlikely it had bitten him because he had stood on it.

"It's more likely to take off if stood on. Their thing is flight to get away from you."