Skiers and rescuers scrambled into action as a young boy was spotted dangling from the Mt Hutt ski field chairlift, 5m above the ground.
The child had slipped out of the chairlift and was left dangling for two minutes with his skis hanging below him, Stuff reported.
Video footage of the ordeal showed a group of people gathered below holding safety pads taken from a nearby tower of the chairlift, as the boy hangs for a moment - and then drops to safety.
Christchurch woman Jennifer Jones told Stuff that she had been snowboarding when she heard people yelling "stop, stop, stop".
She could only watch as the young boy wriggled, dropped his pole, then a ski.
"People were calling out to him not to move. I was thinking, 'Oh my god'," Jones said.
She told Stuff workers ran when they saw the child dangling precariously - jumping into snowmobiles and grabbing safety pads to place underneath, where he dropped safely.
Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie told Stuff an investigation was underway into what happened but it appeared the safety bar didn't come down between the child's legs, allowing him to slip beneath it.
The child was not injured in the incident.
Staff immediately saw the incident and stopped the chairlift about 15 metres from the terminal.
"We will be talking to the child, the adult and staff that were operating the lift at the time," McKenzie said.
"Once we've done all that we will have a much better understanding of what happened."
The incident happened on Mt Hutt's new eight-seater chairlift, the Nor'West Express, Stuff reported.
The eight-seater replaced the old chair lift and increased the capacity of the mountain from 1600 to a maximum of 3000 skiers per hour.
It was the first of its kind in the country and was rated to run in higher wind conditions.
McKenzie told the Herald at the field opening last month that the new lift would allow the field to keep running while the old chairs were right on the threshold for operating.