Four tourists were forced to clamber out of a toppled helicopter on a glacier near Mt Cook when soft-snow resulted in a wayward landing yesterday afternoon.

The Rescue Coordination Centre said an emergency beacon from one of The Helicopter Line (THL) chopper's was activated about 1.20pm from the Richardson Glacier.

Spokesman Steve Rendle said the incident report showed snow under one of the helicopter skids had given way on landing, causing it to roll over.

All four passengers and the pilot were able to exit the helicopter without any problems, he said.


"They were flown by the company's [other] helicopter back to Glentanner which is the base.

"The Rescue Coordination Centre sent the Otago rescue helicopter just to make sure they were okay and checked over. An ambulance had been arranged anyway.

"They were unharmed," Mr Rendle said.

A statement from THL general aviation manager Grant Bisset, who had flown to the glacier to investigate the incident this morning, confirmed the helicopter involved in the Richardson Glacier accident sustained "some damage" after landing on soft snow.

"The pilot followed procedure and activated the on-board emergency beacon, another THL helicopter was dispatched to retrieve the passengers from the landing site.

"The four passengers and pilot remained safe on board the helicopter. The passengers were then ferried back to base," Mr Bisset said.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed today it was also investigating the incident.