A plane which was forced to circle Wanaka Airport after losing a wheel has landed "skidding along the runway".

It was understood to be burning fuel before attempting a crash landing.

An ambulance was waiting at the airport for Flight ZKDEB - which left Twizel this morning - to attempt the landing.

The plane - a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee - had a pilot and two passengers onboard.

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"It landed about 10 minutes ago, touched down and skidded to a halt," an eyewitness told the Herald about 12.45pm.

Flight ZKDEB is circling Wanaka Airport, unable to land. Photo / Flightradar24
Flight ZKDEB is circling Wanaka Airport, unable to land. Photo / Flightradar24

"They are lifting it off the runway now."

Fire and Emergency New Zealand shift manager Andrew Norris said the plane landed safely with all three passengers unharmed and without further damage to the aircraft.

"Everything is happy, everyone is happy," he said.

He said earlier they had three units on site and were waiting for a decision to be made by airport staff and the pilot.

He confirmed the light aircraft had experienced a problem with its landing gear and will have to make a landing attempt before it runs out of fuel in "about an hour".

Police said they were aware of the aircraft attempting to land and had people en route to the scene.

Wanaka Airport manager Ralph Fegan told the Herald the aircraft was circling the field to burn fuel before attempting to land.

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Fegan, who was helping co-ordinate the emergency response, said he understood the plane had lost a wheel.