9 Apr 2009

Couple walk to safety after plane crash lands

6:25 pm on 9 April 2009

A pilot and passenger forced to make an emergency landing in a remote riverbed in the Southern Alps have been rescued.

The couple, who are not from New Zealand, were picked up by Search and Rescue as they were walking to safety. They were not hurt.

The plane's emergency beacon was set off on Thursday about 1.30pm in a region 15km west of Hanmer Springs in the South Island.

A rescue helicopter was sent to search for the single engine Piper Cub and located it in the remote Waiau River bed about 3.20pm.

But the rescue crew found no occupants - the couple had left a note saying they were safe and well and were walking to safety.

They had also left the route they intended to walk and were picked up just before 4pm and flown to Christchurch.

It is not yet known what prompted the emergency landing, but Sophie Hazelhurst of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre says the happy ending was a good way to end a rescue callout.