Nelson police are investigating a serious assault shortly after midnight on Christmas Day.
A male, 29 was left unconscious on Queen Street, in Richmond after being attacked by four or five men near Burger King when he was walking alone.
He was treated at Nelson Hospital before being flown to Hutt Valley Hospital with multiple facial fractures.
Detective Sergeant Lex Brunning said the unprovoked attack was vicious and could have killed the man.
He asked anyone who may have seen the incident or had information to contact Nelson police.