Paraglider dies after crash in Port Hills, near gondola summit in Christchurch

Police said the paraglider has died at the scene. Officers are working to notify next of kin. Photo / 123RF (Stock image)
Police said the paraglider has died at the scene. Officers are working to notify next of kin. Photo / 123RF (Stock image)

A paraglider has died after crashing into a road barrier near the Christchurch gondola summit on the Port Hills.

Officers are working to notify next of kin.

Emergency services were called around 11.40am, police said.

Fire communications shift manager Ian Littlejohn said an emergency call came in shortly before noon.

"We received a call for assistance from the ambulance service. Two reports of a paraglider [going] into a barrier on the Summit Rd."

The incident happened near the gondola top house, he said. Crews responded from Woolston Station, and were on the scene by 12.30pm.

No one else was involved in the incident, which will now be referred to relevant authorities.

Dan Campbell, president of the NZ Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association's Canterbury club said the man who died was a full club member.

"That in itself implies he was a qualified pilot," Campbell told the Herald.

He wasn't yet aware of the man's identity but said the club's thoughts were with the man's family.

"It's a small community and it hits us pretty hard."

The area where the man crashed was a popular spot for paragliders and one which was regularly used, Campbell said.

He didn't want to comment on the conditions today as he hadn't been to the Port Hills, but said "any flying site on the wrong day can be dangerous".

Details about the exact location of the crash were sketchy at the moment, Campbell said.

Campbell was told the man was a club member by the Canterbury chapter's safety officer.

The safety officer knew the man's identity but did not want to disclose it until his family had been notified.

Staff at the shops and cafe at the top of the Christchurch Gondola said they had not seen or heard anything about the incident.

Police and ambulance officers and a rescue helicopter were also at the scene.

MetService meteorologist Angus Hines said there were no stations on the Port Hills but surrounding stations showed low winds of about 10 km/h or less in the area, which was "quite calm".

"It's not particularly windy in that part of the country in fact it's a fairly light northeasterly."

There was some cloud hanging over Christchurch city but it was not low lying and the day was by no means overcast, Hines said.

Mike Richards of the Civil Aviation Authority said the organisation had been notified and a regional investigator was preparing to head to the scene shortly.

The CAA understood there had been a witness to the crash and would be speaking with them as part of their investigation, Richards said.

"We're aware police are on the scene taking photos and taking measurements."

A local resident living in nearby Heathcote Valley, who asked not to be named, said he didn't often see paragliders in the area. He said the conditions in the area today were calm. He had not seen what happened.

- NZ Herald

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