British surfer punches shark on the nose to escape attack

Darren Mills was 50 metres off the coast of New Zealand when the shark struck

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The Independent Online

A British surfer has described himself as "really lucky" after he had to fend off a shark by punching it on the nose when he was attacked off the coast of New Zealand.

Darren Mills, who lives in Queenstown, Australia, but is from Crawley, West Sussex, was surfing in Porpoise Bay, Southland, on Friday when he was attacked by the underwater predator.

The 28-year-old told ONE News that he feels “really lucky” to be alive after he felt a “big thump” when a shark bit into his leg, leaving three deep wounds from his thigh to his calf. 

“It hit me and pushed me out and around a wee bit. I just sort of realised what was going on and could see it and tried to punch it but it was more like a push," he said.

"I was pretty scared it was going to come back but it didn’t and I managed to get into shore and … it was just really scary," he added.

Mr Mills swam the 50m back to shore using his surfboard, on which the shark’s bite marks can clearly be seen. Mr Mills said he was certain it was a Great White that attacked him, although this has not been confirmed.

He was then flown by rescue helicopter from the shore to Southland Hospital.

He told the New Zealand Herald that he will return to the water, but said: "When it first happened I was like, I'm not even getting in the bathtub again."

"There's a puncture wound just below my knee, which has gone through a tendon,and then there's four lacerations up my leg to the top of my thigh," he said.

Asked if he would go surfing again he said: "I love it. I just want to get back and just surf again."

Mr Mills told reporters that 12 days prior to the attack, he had filmed a video for his friend's submersible shark ride. A fortnight later, he had been bitten by the real thing.

The incident is the second shark attack off South Island in recent weeks.

Last month a doctor was attacked while spear fishing and fought off the shark with a knife, stitched up his wounds, and headed to the nearest pub for a beer.