A major search is underway in Southland for a missing helicopter with a pilot and instructor on board, with Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) saying there are no clues to its whereabouts.
The Robinson R22 was on a training flight when it was reported overdue today at 2.15pm in the Awarua area, near Bluff.
A pilot and instructor are believed to be on board but no more is known about the occupants.
No beacon went off and there had been no communication with the helicopter since 1.30pm, MNZ spokesman Nick Churchouse told Radio New Zealand.
Searchers were none the wiser as to where the helicopter was at or what had happened, he said.
Police and Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand is coordinating three helicopters searching a 1250 square kilometre area east of Bluff, assisted by the Coastguard air patrol and Coastguard vessels from Riverton and Bluff. The search will continue with night vision equipment after dark.
Nothing had been heard of the chopper for about half an hour before it was reported missing, MNZ said.
It appealed for any vessels to look out for sightings of the chopper.
- NZPA, NZ Herald staff