Marine authorities say an Australian man has died after a large shark attacked him while he was kitesurfing in New Caledonia, a French island territory in the Pacific Ocean.

The 50-year-old man had fallen from his board into the water on Tuesday afternoon near the reef of Koumac lagoon when the shark bit deep into his right thigh, said Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Director Nicolas Renaud.

He said the man had arrived Sunday for a vacation that was due to last about 10 days and had booked a cruise on a sailing vessel so he could do some kitesurfing.

Renaud said the crew from the sailing catamaran witnessed the attack and were able to drag the man back on board and administer first aid, but he later died.