The post mortem examinations for two people who died today in a helicopter crash in the Glenbervie Forest in Northland will take place tomorrow, police say.

Rescue crews found the wreckage of a crashed Robinson R44 chopper in the forest, near Hikurangi.

It is believed to be a commercial helicopter. 1 News reported the victims were contractors at forestry company Rayonier.

Rayonier told 1 News staff at the company were "offering support" to the victims' families.


The crash site was in a dense area that emergency services said could only be accessed on foot.

Before emergency crews arrived Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter winched a paramedic to the site, but the those on board the R44 were already dead.

John Ashby, spokesman for the Rescue Coordination Centre, said the investigation was now being headed by police.

Police said they were investigating what the chopper was doing before it crashed and were identifying the bodies of the people killed.

The fatal helicopter crash occurred in Glenbervie Forest, North of Whangarei. Photo / Tania Webb
The fatal helicopter crash occurred in Glenbervie Forest, North of Whangarei. Photo / Tania Webb

MetService forecaster Gerard Barrow said there had been showers developing in the area when the beacon was triggered, but no thunderstorms or lightning.

It is almost five years since the deaths of two men in a Far North helicopter crash.

Kerikeri pilot John "Prickles" de Ridder, 69, and Department of Conservation (DoC) ranger William Macrae, 54, of Awanui were on a fire reconnaissance flight on the evening of November 30, 2011, when their helicopter crashed into the sea off the Karikari Peninsula.

While flying over the major fire, they were tasked with finding five people trapped between the advancing flames and the sea. The five potential victims managed to get into a dinghy and were picked up by a fishing boat.

The crash comes after the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) added Robinson Helicopters to its list of safety concerns last week.

Peter Northcote, spokesman for TAIC, said the organisation would monitor the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) investigation into today's crash, but could not confirm whether it would conduct its own inquiry until it had more information about what had happened.

TAIC refused to comment further on the crash.

Louisa Patterson, who lost her 18-year-old son James Patterson-Gardner in a chopper crash last year, said last week the R44 model, which crashed today, claimed 44 lives globally in the past 21 months.

"Nothing will bring back Steve and James nor the other victims of the many inflight breakups of this aircraft type," she said on Thursday.

"Other Robinson accidents have been blamed on turbulence or pilot inexperience. In our case, the instructor was experienced and from the tracking data, the aircraft was being flown in the cruise, in calm weather and at a safe altitude.

"We firmly believe that had Steve and James been in any other aircraft type the accident would not have occurred.

"Our families are traumatised and have paid the ultimate price. We do not want other families to suffer this too."

Out of respect for the victims' families Patterson declined to comment on today's crash, except to say in a statement she offered her "full condolences" to the loved ones of those killed.

The Whangarei rescue helicopter touched down at the scene just after 2pm.

Emergency crews were en route to the crash site about 20km northeast of Whangarei.

A Rescue Coordination Centre spokeswoman said a beacon at Lookout Rd had gone off just after 1pm deep in the forest.

Whangarei police confirmed they had staff, along with St John paramedics and firefighters, responding to the call.