17 Aug 2014

Helicopter crash kills one, injures six

5:16 am on 17 August 2014

One man died and six others were injured after a helicopter crashed on Mount Alta, near Wanaka, on Saturday.

The Harris Mountains Heli Ski helicopter was carrying a pilot, a ski guide and five skiers when it crashed earlier this afternoon.

Mountains around Wanaka, New Zealand

An aerial view of mountains around Wanaka, close to where a helicopter crashed on Saturday. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The police said four men were taken to Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition and two others with less serious injuries were taken to the Wanaka Medical Centre.

The dead person is understood to be one of the five skiers, a group of New Zealand men.

A spokesperson for Harris Mountains Heli Ski, Mark Quickfall, said one of the company's helicopters discovered the crash.

"The machines, as I say, call in regularly and that's part of our safe programme and it was overdue. We had seven machines in the field so there was another helicopter in the vicinity. He went to investigate. He obviously came across the fact that the helicopter had an accident, on the northern face of Mount Alta."

Mr Quickfall said the company's helicopters rushed to the scene when it was realised there had been a crash.

"So helicopters fortunately landed and provided what assistance they could. Other helicopters, I believe, flew to Wanaka to get doctors and to get, I believe, a doctor off Treble Cone," he said.

"People have been flown out. The last update I had is that they were taken to Wanaka Medical Centre to be assessed and potentially some could be transferred to Dunedin. I haven't had confirmation of that."

It is believed the helicopter that crashed was trying to land on the ridgeline, when it rolled coming to rest about 1000 feet further down the side of the mountain.

Investigators from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission will inspect the wreckage tomorrow to try and work out what happened.

Mr Quickfall said weather conditions in the area were fine at the time of the crash.