A Waitara couple are recovering today after crashing their plane in rough terrain and then spending a night in the bush before they were located.
Anne and Alan Warner were cold but suffering only minor injuries when they were picked up this morning.
The Warners were flying their two-seater light plane from Whitianga to Stratford when they disappeared near Whangamomona.
Their family still can't believe they're alive, and son Adam Warner said he automatically assumed the worst.
"Got a good outcome, thank God."
The Warners' plane crashed in a steep valley so it was difficult to track their emergency locator, but they were eventually spotted walking near the plane.
Air traffic control lost contact with the couple and their Zenith Zodiac around 4pm yesterday as they encountered bad weather.
Conditions were too bad for a helicopter, so a fixed-wing plane was sent to search for them.
A Defence Force helicopter later searched for four hours, but was also unsuccessful as cloud was low and the terrain tough.
The couple were heading home to Stratford Aeroclub. Fellow members also joined the search, but were forced to turn back because of bad weather.
Club president Nick Fermage says the couple were likely caught off-guard.
"It can sneak up on you pretty quickly," he says.
Adam says this incident won't stop his father flying. After a health scare a few years ago, he says he wanted to concentrate on doing something he loves.
"It's always something he wanted to do," he says.
And while their plane survived in one piece, the family say the Warners will need another one if they want to fly again.