Three people are in Greymouth hospital after their light pane crashed at Fox Glacier Air Strip on Friday.
It is believed the Cessna aircraft, en route from Queenstown, was trying to touch down when it plunged to the ground
It took out power lines, cutting electricity to parts of the town and smashed into bush at the end of the strip.
The pilot was briefly trapped inside but was soon free.
His condition is serious, but the two passengers escaped with minor injuries.
Civil aviation authority will begin an investigation on Saturday.