An icy spat between a couple at the top of the Franz Josef Glacier yesterday nearly saw the man and woman being left out in the cold - by the helicopter pilot who had flown them there.

The couple, overseas tourists of an undisclosed nationality, were on a scenic trip to the top of the glacier when they had "a domestic argument" at the ice base, where tourist helicopters land as part of the sightseeing experience.

Acting senior sergeant Paul Watson, of Greymouth police, said things were getting a little heated when the pilot had to intervene, suggesting they might want to sort things out or they could stay where they were.

"The helicopter pilot actually stated he would leave them there if they didn't resolve their issue," Mr Watson said.

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The pilot reported the incident to police after he returned the warring couple to Franz Josef Glacier township.

At this stage police had yet to have a positive sighting of the unhappy couple because "as soon as they landed, they took off".

- Greymouth Star