A pilot and his passenger had a lucky escape after their light plane crashed on Tomahawk Beach yesterday afternoon after ''spluttering'' over the city.
A 9-year-old boy was taken to Dunedin Hospital with minor injuries, while the pilot was not injured.
The Cessna 182 landed upside down in the sand about 4.30pm.
The Otago Daily Times understands the plane was flown by its registered owner, Craig Mitchell, and the passenger was his stepson.
Mr Mitchell was a member of Otago Aero Club and featured in the newspaper last year when he proposed to his partner by getting a friend to fly over their Karitane holiday home towing a message asking for her hand in marriage.
Contacted last night, Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said the Cessna 182 was a ''very reliable aircraft''.
''Generally, the owners that have them are the sort of people who know how to maintain them and keep them in good nick.
''If something goes wrong [in aviation] the key is that the pilot takes evasive action, and in this case it looks like he did.
''The good news is that no life was lost,'' Mr Richards said.
The authority would investigate the crash.
ODT reporter Chris Morris was at his Maia home about 4.30pm when he heard ''what sounded like a very sick plane'' flying overhead from the north at what seemed like a lower altitude than normal.
''The engine was spluttering and it sounded like it was going to cut out completely,'' Mr Morris said.
He saw the plane fly low across the harbour towards Challis on Otago Peninsula before changing direction and heading south.
''It looked like it was going down. I wasn't sure it was going to clear the peninsula, but it just seemed to sneak over,'' Mr Morris said.
Guy Brannigan, of Dunedin, said he and Lana Rockliff were walking north on Tomahawk Beach and saw the plane flying low.
They could not hear the engine.
The plane just missed the ridge as it coasted towards the beach about 4.30pm.
''It got to a point where we didn't know which way to dive because we realised it was coming down.''
The plane was travelling to land on hard sand but appeared to have been pushed up the beach by a wind gust and landed on soft sand in front of them.
''His wheels have touched down, the nose has hit the ground straight away and the tail has snapped in a forward roll.''
A wheel was metres from the plane, and a propeller was buried in the sand.
About 60 people surrounded the plane while emergency services attended the crash.
Flora Lira, of Dunedin, said she was at Tautuku Fishing Club, at Smaills Beach.
She heard the plane's engine failing and then silence and headed to Tomahawk Beach.
The boy in the plane was taken from the beach on a stretcher on the back of a ute to an ambulance waiting on Tomahawk Rd.
Otago Polytechnic nursing student Luke Wang said he was ''shocked'' to see the plane flip while walking on Tomahawk Beach alone yesterday.
The pilot appeared fine and asked to use his cellphone to make a call.
A policeman on the beach said the boy's injuries were caused by his seat belt.
The plane was removed from the beach last night by helicopter.