An Australian glider pilot has died in a crash during a gliding competition in Wanaka this afternoon.

The experienced pilot was competing in the South Island Gliding Championships and had taken off from the Omarama competition base before crashing in the Hunter Range near Lake Hawea about 5.30pm.

Otago Lakes Central Area Commander Inspector Olaf Jensen said a helicopter was sent from Queenstown with a paramedic and police on board to find the crash site, but a person in a privately owned plane found it.

Jensen said the sole occupant of the glider was found dead.


Gliding New Zealand spokesman Nigel Davy said the man was highly experienced.

"He was a high-hour pilot from Melbourne, with in excess of 4500 hours in his logbook," Davy said.

He was also experienced in mountain flying as he had arrived a week before the competition to practice.

Police will formally establish the man's identity and notify the man's family.

The death will be referred to the coroner and the Civil Aviation Authority will be notified.

It's the second fatal glider crash in a week after experienced 72-year-old pilot Ricco Legler crashed near Kaikohe on Thursday.

- Additional reporting Otago Daily Times