Search for pilot and passenger after crash

Two West Coast men have been found dead in the wreckage of a helicopter in the Fish River near Haast.

The pilot was a 54-year-old man from Hokitika, and the passenger, was a 51-year-old man from the Bruce Bay area.

Both were believed to be helicopter enthusiasts.

The helicopter, which was flying from Wanaka to Haast, was reported overdue about 9pm last night. A search involving the NZCC Greymouth Rescue Helicopter was called off at midnight.

Wanaka Police and Land SAR's river rescue team accessed the remote crash site around 1pm today after the wreck was spotted in a morning air search.

Both men were still in the helicopter when it was found.

The case has been referred to the coroner and the Civil Aviation Authority. The helicopter wreckage will be stored in Wanaka pending investigation. Police have not confirmed the identities of the two victims.

The crash comes only weeks after an investigation was launched into a 2011 helicopter crash when two died when a Robinson 22 chopper went down on a flight from Haast to Wanaka.

Fairfax Media