Watch: Historic Skippers Canyon Homestead burnt to the ground in 'suspicious' fire

The historic Mt Aurum Homestead at Skippers has been burnt to the ground after a large blaze tore through the building north of Queenstown overnight.

Two buildings and 1200sqm of vegetation were destroyed in the fire, which was discovered by campers around 2am.

Around 20 firefighters from Queenstown and Arrowtown reached the scene of the fire at 3am.

"There was campers up there that more or less got stuck in and got it controlled," Queenstown senior station officer Dave Christie told the New Zealand Herald.

The homestead, also known as the school house, was one of two timber buildings in Skippers Canyon dating back to the gold rush after it was built around 1863.

The historic school nearby was left unscathed following the blaze.

Police are appealing for a man and woman who camped at the Mt Aurum Homestead around the time of the incident to come forward.

The fire is being investigated as suspicious.

The historic homestead near Queenstown was built during the gold rush around 1863. Source: 1 NEWS


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MetService warns large swells on West Coast a risk to swimmers, boaties

Big swells are hitting the West Coast and MetService is warning those in and on the water to be cautious. 

MetService says a large belt of winds south of Australia are generating big swells, which have already arrived in the South Island and will spread to the coasts of Wanganui and up to Taranaki by this evening. 

TVNZ weather presenter Dan Corbett with the latest update. Source: 1 NEWS

It will reach north to the most northward western coasts by midnight tonight. 

MetService said in a statement the waves with the longest wavelengths will arrive first and these waves are "paticularly powerful". 

Swimmers and boaties should be cautious as the water levels will drop but when the next peak arrives "it can be quite unexpected".

The swell will also rise rapidly when it arrives. 

"These powerful waves could catch even the most experienced sea dwellers off guard with their long peak to lull times," the forecaster said. 

Surfer footprints on sandy beach with green waves breaking at Wainui Beach, Gisborne, New Zealand
Waves (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Two people dead in microlight plane crash in Northland

The Civil Aviation Authority is launching an investigation into the plane crash in Northland this afternoon in which two people died.

The plane crashed on a dairy farm at Pouto near Dargaville shortly after 12.15pm.

Police say the scene is being examined by the Serious Crash Unit and the crash will be referred to the Civil Aviation Authority and the Coroner.

The Civil Aviation Authority says the aircraft type was a Vans RV 7. It was carrying the pilot and one passenger at the time of the crash.  

The CAA is deploying two safety investigators from Wellington to commence the investigation.

At this stage it is too early to say what may have caused the accident, said spokesman Mike Richards.

A witness arrived at the scene to see the light plane nosedived into a paddock. Source: 1 NEWS

The CAA investigators will arrive  tomorrow and will first meet with police and speak with emergency services who attended the accident, Mr Richards said. 

The safety investigators will review any photographs taken at the scene at Te Kopuru in Kaipara District and will also arrange to talk to any witnesses, he said. 

"Once the site is handed over from Police the investigators will move to the initial phase of the physical investigation, which will be undertaken at the crash site. The crash site will be secured overnight," Mr Richards said.  

That's what we saw spiralling out of the sky was the wing - Crash witness

The CAA won’t have any further updates until after the Investigator in Charge has completed a site visit, likely to be Tuesday afternoon, he said.

A witness has told 1 NEWS she arrived at the scene to see the light plane nosedived into a paddock.

The woman said, according to the fire brigade the wreckage is scattered over about a 500 metre radius and she saw parts of the plane across the road, "which we surmise had fallen off before it crashed".

"That's what we saw spiralling out of the sky was the wing. That''s the first thing we saw."

The CAA would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the accident and they should call 0800 222 697.

Two people died when the light plane crashed on a dairy farm at Pouto near Dargaville in the Kaipara District. Source: 1 NEWS