Pilot found safe after grounding helicopter near Arthur's Pass

A pilot who grounded his helicopter Southern Alps last night, sparking rescue efforts, has been found "by luck" this morning.

A Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was flying from Hokitika on the West Coast to the Canterbury town of Darfield yesterday when it reportedly encountered low cloud.

Its emergency beacon was activated at 4.18pm - just over an hour after a helicopter carrying a newlywed couple, their wedding photographer and pilot crashed at Canterbury high country resort and golf course Terrace Downs.

Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Co-ordination Centre led the search, with other helicopters dispatched from both the West Coast and Christchurch.

However, they had to call off the search because of the low cloud.

The search continued this morning, with helicopters back in the air and ground search and rescue teams scouring the area north of Arthur's Pass, by Deception River and Goat Pass.

Around 8.30am, a passing helicopter not involved in the search spotted the grounded machine around Goat Pass and made contact with the pilot, Maritime NZ spokesman David Graham said.

"It was a bit of luck really," he said.

The pilot did the right thing by putting the machine down when flying into the low cloud, Graham said.

He is said to be safe and well.

It's yet not clear whether the pilot has flown his own machine out of the mountains this morning.

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