Work will begin on Saturday on making the main entry tunnel to the Pike River mine safe for a recovery team to enter and search for the remains of the 29 men who died there.
The mine has been completely sealed since 2010 when it exploded and killed all but two of the men inside.
Costing just $7.2 million the Government-funded re-entry plan involves sealing the ventilation shaft and the main entry tunnel to reduce the chances of another methane explosion in the gas laden mine.
A recovery team will then move 2 kms inside the tunnel as far as the seal in a search for the men.
This weekend the army and the airforce will use one of the newly purchased NH90 helicopters to lift an old fan from the top of the ventilation shaft and clear the area so work can begin on filling the shaft with concrete.