It took about two and a half hours to recover the bus that crashed down a steep bank, near Akaroa.

Scrub had to be cleared with chainsaws and two large heavy removal vehicles needed to winch the bus up onto the road.

The hardest challenge of the recovery was pulling the bus up over the lip of the bank and righting it onto the road. The bus plunged off State Highway 75 on Wednesday night, near Barry's Bay.

Seven passengers were injured in the crash. Photo / Martin Hunter
Seven passengers were injured in the crash. Photo / Martin Hunter

The road was closed while the bus was recovered.

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Two US passengers from the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship remain in Christchurch Hospital.

The Royal Caribbean cruise line said the most seriously injured of the 31 passengers were from the United States.

Spokesman Owen Torres said six guests from the US were among the injured along with the drivers of both vehicles.

The remaining passengers had returned to the ship and were continuing their trip around New Zealand.