The Air Force says crew on a new helicopter rescued a missing tramper on the chopper's debut mission.

An Air Force NH90 helicopter was deployed to find missing tramper David Schopf. The Austrian tramper went missing in the Tararua Forest Park north of Wellington this week.

The NH90 spotted him in a valley late yesterday afternoon and winched him to safety, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) said.

Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley, said the NH90s would take over key search and rescue and national security roles from the old Iroquois helicopters, which had been in service since 1966.


"The aircraft performed well during its first search and rescue mission, and demonstrated it is well-equipped to perform this type of task. The crew have also done a great job and performed well under pressure," Mr Yardley said.

"As of yesterday, the NH90 is the primary aircraft responsible for search and rescue missions, casualty evacuation in association with search and rescue, as well as transport for NZ Police and other military personnel for national security requirements," Mr Yardley added.

The Air Force said the NH90 and the A109, a light utility helicopter, were on track to be capable of undertaking all tasks the Iroquois currently performed by mid-2015.

NHIndustries, a French subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters, made the NH90 helicopter.