Two different sets of Hawke's Bay doctors were called on to treat the leg injuries of a woman attacked by a stingray.

The woman in her 20s received a lashing to her leg after a close encounter with a stingray off the East Coast recently.

She was transported from Wairoa Hospital to Hawke's Bay Hospital via the Lowe Rescue Helicopter on January 2 and was discharged earlier this week.

Mahia Boating and Fishing Club president Jarred Moroney said stingrays were relatively common this time of the year.


They're more likely to be spotted in shallow waters as they swim closely inshore to avoid orcas, which have recently been spotted in Napier's Westshore and Ahuriri trying to turn them into a meal.

Holidaymakers at Pourerere Beach have also been treated to a unique stingray experience.

One particular ray has made the beach its personal holiday spot for the past few weeks, avoiding any kind of encounter with the orcas circulating in search of them.

"They're often around at this time of the year, but I haven't' noticed more numbers than usual," Moroney said.

"It's the ocean, we're sharing space with them. I think the only thing that has changed is the amount of people on the beach."

Beautiful but dangerous if provoked, rays are closely related to sharks and can reach weights of up to 350kg, armed with their own personal sword, otherwise know as a venomous barb.

"Sometimes people step on stingrays accidentally when they're searching for food and that's when they get hurt, so if you see them in the water it's just best to be careful and give them space," Moroney said.

If beachgoers are sharing water with stingrays, it's recommended that they shuffle in sandy areas to avoid stepping on them.


When diving closely around them, the creatures will often swim away, but some will raise or whip their barbs to show they're feeling threatened.

Swimmers should then distance themselves and give them space.

Experts recommend that someone does get barbed, put hot water on the wound to alter the venom.

If the barb is stuck in the skin, removing it is not recommended as they're serrated and can cause even more damage.

Seek immediate medical attention as some people can have allergic reactions to the venom.

Niwa marine ecologist Dr Malcolm Francis said stingrays were not naturally aggresive and would not attack unless threatened.

"They're fascinating creatures. Think of them like a cat, they can be really friendly and cuddly but if you do anything to upset them they can lash out."