An Australian man who dived into the sea to rescue a woman from a shark attack said reality hit when he saw the water turn red, as he was honoured for his bravery.. Stock image: AP

Wellington - A New Zealand doctor fought off an attacking shark with a knife before heading ashore to stitch his own wounds and then head to the nearest pub for a beer, reports said on Tuesday.

James Grant was spearfishing near Colac Bay on the southern coast of New Zealand on Saturday when he felt the shark wrap its jaws around his leg.

“I thought, ‘Bugger, now I have to try and get this thing off my leg’,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Grant, 24, said he didn't get a good look at the shark but the nature of several wounds suggested it was a sevengill shark and about 20cm across at the jaw. Full-grown sevengills can measure up to three metres in length.

“I sort of just fought the shark off. The shark got a few stabs. The knife wasn't long enough though,” he later told Fairfax Media.

After getting rid of the shark, Grant swam ashore and stitched his cuts using a first aid kit he kept in his vehicle for when his pig-hunting dogs were injured.

He and his friends then abandoned their fishing expedition and went to a nearby tavern, where he was given a beer for himself and a bandage for the wound to stop blood dripping on the floor.

“It would have been great if I had killed it because there was a fishing competition on at the Colac Bay Tavern,” Grant said.