An aircraft with two occupants, en route from Palmerston North to Taupō, was reported missing Saturday night near the Kaimanawa Ranges on the North Island were it was located at Sunday 24 March at 11:30, about 24 km east of Tūrangi.
Both pilots, who were qualified flight instructors, were fatally injured.
The plane’s wreckage was found this morning in steep terrain after being reported missing last night.
The bodies of two men have now been recovered, police said in a statement.
Police confirmed it was discovered shortly before midday on Sunday.
“Police are at the scene of a plane crash in the Kaimanawa Ranges,” a spokesperson said.
“Due to poor weather last night and earlier today which prevented helicopter activity, police were unable to land in the area until late this morning. The overdue aircraft was located around 11:30 am today.”
The plane set off from Palmerston North on Saturday night and was heading to Taupō Airport. Its last known location was near the Kaimanawa Ranges.
The plane is registered with Ardmore Flying School and is carrying two passengers.
After it failed to arrive, authorities were alerted and launched an aerial search.
“Call came at 10:30 pm that plane hadn’t flown through Taupō. Search and Rescue Helicopter was sent to the last radar signal, 24km south-east of Turangi,” a Rescue Coordination Centre spokesperson told Newshub.
Earlier, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) said it had opened an investigation into an “aviation accident” in the Kaimanawa Ranges in the Central North Island.
The Diamond DA42 Twin Star aeroplane was last seen on radar about 22 nautical miles south-southeast of Taupo. It was reported missing last night at about 10 pm.
The Commission has appointed a team of three investigators. They are expected to arrive at the site tomorrow morning.
A Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed the search teams had found the plane this morning. The response was now being led by police.
The plane had left from Palmerston North and was flying to Ardmore Airport near Auckland, via Taupō Airport.