UPDATE #8 - Search underway for missing helicopter in Nelson region

9 October 2014, 11:30am

Four helicopters and five ground teams have resumed searching for the helicopter missing since Tuesday morning in an area of Kahurangi National Park 35km west of Motueka, in the Nelson region.

High winds that prevented helicopters searching yesterday afternoon have died down and conditions for aerial searching are good.

On the ground, a total of 20 searchers are operating in extremely difficult conditions in steep, bush-covered terrain. A search and rescue dog will not now be used due to a 1080 drop in the area.

No sign has yet been found of the Robinson 44 helicopter with one person on board that went missing on Tuesday morning during a flight from Karamea on the West Coast to Nelson.

No emergency beacon signal has been detected from the missing helicopter and the search area is based on information from the helicopter’s tracking system. The area being searched is around 5km in each direction from that point.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) search and rescue controller Neville Blakemore said the focus for the day was completing the detailed search of the area around the helicopter’s last known position. 

“After the frustration of yesterday’s high winds, conditions in the air are excellent and all four helicopters are conducting very low altitude, slow-speed searching of the bush canopy,” he said.

“Things are more challenging on the ground and the teams are conducting contour searches, following the lay of the land. The area is covered in very steep ravines so it is very hard work, but the people on the ground are well-trained and committed to a comprehensive search.”

Notes to media:

This updates the earlier reference to an additional two land SAR teams going into the area this morning. An additional team is on standby and two teams will go into the area later this afternoon to replace two teams currently operating. As stated above, a search and rescue dog will not now be used due to a 1080 drop in the area.

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