The bus that crashed down a steep bank near Akaroa while carrying a load of tourists on Wednesday has been recovered.

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

The whole process took about two and a half hours and the road was closed while the bus was recovered.

The vehicle plunged down the bank on Wednesday evening after a collision with a car.

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The 31 passengers on board were from the cruise ship Celebrity Solstice, docked in the Akaroa Harbour.

Six people from the US were among those injured in the crash. They were flown and driven to Christchurch Hospital, some in a critical condition. Four have now been discharged from hospital and Celebrity Cruises has sent out a care team to help with their onward travel.

Two other guests remain in hospital in a stable condition.

The New Zealand woman driving the car involved in the crash remained in a critical condition yesterday, while the bus driver was in a serious but stable condition.

The other passengers returned to the ship and have continued their cruise around New Zealand.