The first of the Defence Force's new helicopters have arrived in New Zealand.

A fleet of eight NH90s were ordered in 2006 to replace the Air Force's Iroquois helicopters, which have been in use for about 40 years.

Two of the new helicopters arrived in Ohakea yesterday morning after being airlifted from France.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the helicopters would give a quantum leap in capability for the Air Force.