The body of the pilot in Saturday's hot-air balloon crash was formally identified as Lance Hopping, 53, of Carterton, at a hearing before Coroner Peter Ryan in Wellington yesterday afternoon.

Eleven died when the balloon struck powerlines in Carterton and erupted into flames during an early-morning flight over the Wairarapa.

The two sites where bodies were recovered will be blessed today as emergency services staff and neighbours gather to pay a final tribute to the victims.

The blessing, by the Rev Jenny Chalmers and Hurunui-O-Rangi representatives, is due at midday, just hours before Somerset Rd is reopened to the public.


Carterton Mayor Ron Mark said the ceremony was a chance to acknowledge the response by police officers, firefighters, air accident investigators and Victim Support staff, as well as the residents of the street.

He said a civic ceremony for the wider public was planned for a later date at the Carterton Events Centre.

Police area commander Inspector Brent Register said yesterday that he had hoped the road would be opened by this morning but that had changed to 4pm or 5pm.

"I want to make the scene look like a farm paddock again before we go."

He said a metal detector would be brought in this morning to finish the search for evidence.