An Oamaru teenager was taken to hospital after being attacked by a shark in Oamaru Harbour this afternoon.
Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said a group of about five young people had been jumping off Holmes Wharf and paddling in the harbour when the 13-year-old girl was attacked.
Emergency services were called to Friendly Bay about 4.30pm, and witnesses told police the shark was dark grey in colour and about 6ft long, Woodbridge said.
It was believed to be a sevengill shark, which are often spotted in the Oamaru Harbour area. There had been several reports of sightings on social media over the past month.
The 13-year-old girl had several puncture wounds, and was taken to Oamaru Hospital for treatment.
Woodbridge said the girl was in good spirits after the attack, and the injuries were not life-threatening.
"It's good it's not a fatality . . . she will live to tell a pretty amazing tale," he said.
The attack came as a shock to the group of young people swimming in the harbour, one of them witnessing the girl being gripped in the shark's mouth and shaken around, he said.
Woodbridge advised people heading into the water to keep a watch for sharks and be cautious.
"When you enter that water, you're in their [the sharks'] backyard," he said.
DOC Marine Scientist Clinton Duffy said the sevengill sharks tend to be common in shallow water around the South Island at this time of year.
"They're common around the upper North Island around wintertime and in summertime they tend to move out of the harbours to coastal waters and seem to become more common in December, January and February in shallow water around the South Island.
"They can be really abundant. They are quite a common large shark."
Duffy said they are very distinctive with black and white speckles on the upper body, a blunt snout and small dorsal fin located near the back tail, Duffy said.
Duffy said they are not easy to spot in the water because of the small dorsal fin, which doesn't tend to break the surface.
"They're a generalist predator so they are known to feed on a wide range of prey.
"They're quite primitive looking and obviously have got seven gill slits when most sharks have five."
Duffy said it is unusual and rare for someone to get bitten by a shark, and there are usually only one or two incidents a year.
Duffy said sharks are generally cautious of new objects in their environment but they will bite novel objects to see what they are.
"They have very broad teeth that are very good at tearing bits off large prey and they scavenge off marine mammals and will feed on seals in pack behaviour.
"They do feed close to shore at this time of year, particularly around the South Island.
"They are species of shark most commonly caught in Dunedin shark nets."
Duffy says swimmers should swim at patrolled beaches and in between the flags, and not at nighttime when the sharks are more active.
He said if one is spotted, swimmers should get out of the water quickly and quietly without "too much commotion".
Former professional and New Zealand representative skiier Tai Juneau, 26, of New Plymouth, had his fingers bitten by a shark - likely a broadnose sevengill - while surfing near Taranaki in November last year.
A year ago, Kaelah Marlow, 19, died after being mauled by a shark at Waihī Beach, despite desperate first aid provided on the beach.
A number of great white sharks have been spotted across the country this summer, including in the Kaipara Harbour, Auckland and near Bowentown and Waihi beach.