The pilot of a helicopter which caught fire during a flight has been found by rescuers unharmed next to the burned out wreck at the crash site.

The man, who works for a logging company, was flying from Taumarunui to Oruanui near Taupo this morning to take the helicopter for a maintenance check when he ran into trouble.

After failing to arrive at his scheduled time, a routine search and rescue mission was started.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand ran the search, sending a rescue helicopter along the missing helicopter's planned flight path.

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The crash site in Pureora Forest Park near Taupo. Photo/ Greenlea Rescue Helicopter
The crash site in Pureora Forest Park near Taupo. Photo/ Greenlea Rescue Helicopter

The man was spotted in the Pureora Forest Park about 18km west of Lake Taupo, unhurt next to the crash site.

"Amazingly they found the burned-out wreck of the helicopter in a forest clearing and the pilot unharmed next to it," said Maritime New Zealand communications advisor Vince Cholewa.

The pilot had been able to "auto-rotate" his Bell 204 helicopter to the ground, Cholewa said.

He was found shortly after 2pm and was being taken home by rescue helicopter to Taumarunui. He did not need to be taken to hospital.