A helicopter spreading fertiliser "fell out of the sky" near Mokau yesterday.
Emergency services were called about 1.30pm after the chopper crashed and rolled, losing its tail and mangling its rotors.
The Precision Helicopter pilot, Marty Fry, walked away uninjured, Mokau deputy fire chief Graham Putt said.
"It happened just up behind the butchery here.
"We'd been watching it dropping fertiliser with a hopper all day and then it just fell out of the sky," Mr Putt said.
The helicopter had been at least 400 metres off the ground when it crashed, he said.
"I think he did a great job getting it to land on its belly with whatever's gone wrong up there," he said.
The helicopter appeared to have quickly landed on its skids on uneven terrain which had tipped the aircraft over and sent the tail and the rotors into the ground, he said.
"You can see the grass it landed on has been sucked up into the pot rivets," he said.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said the crash had been reported to the authority.
"It's reported as an engine failure resulting in a rollover and the tail boom has broken off," he said.
Greg Tuffey and Matt Holloway were driving across the Mokau river bridge when they saw the helicopter working along a steep ridge.
"We had been watching it with its bucket and couldn't work out what it was doing, whether it was spraying or dropping 1080 or what," Mr Tuffey said.
Mr Holloway said the chopper's descent had happened quickly.
"It came down and went back up without the bucket and there was probably five seconds until it crashed into the side of the hill," Mr Holloway said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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