One person has died and another is seriously injuried after the small plane they were in crash in Central Otago this afternoon.

Police say emergency services were called after the single-engine aircraft was reported overdue shortly after 2pm.

The aircraft left Taieri on Sunday morning but never arrived at its destination of Omarama.

A Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand spokesman said the plane didn't have a distress beacon or flight tracking device so two helicopters were sent to retrace its flight path. However, it was another aircraft that came across the crash site in "rolling, heavily undulating terrain", the spokesman said.

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The injured man has been taken to hospital and police are working to inform the dead man's family.

"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those involved," said police in a statement.

The crash has been referred to the Civil Aviation Authority