Mother of Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse emotional after recovery team finds his loader in mine

The mother of two Pike River miners says she became emotional upon learning the team recovering the drift had found her surviving son's loader.

It marks a major milestone in the drift recovery for the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Sonya Rockhouse had just one question for the team: whether they could see her son Daniel's loader.

Daniel had been on his loader when the first explosion hit in November 2010. He was knocked out for 50 minutes, before coming to and hauling himself and fellow survivor Russell Smith 1880 metres to the surface.

While the pair escaped, Daniel's brother Ben and 28 others tragically didn't make it out alive.

Dinghy Pattinson has now confirmed that in the pitch-black of the first roadway of a tunnel network known as Pit Bottom in Stone, the team had found his loader.

"I can confirm the loader was there and it was in the location we expected to find it," Pike River Recovery Agency's Dinghy Patterson said.

Just last month, the team recovered Smith's loader, which was sitting 1600 metres down the drift. Rockhouse says she felt quite emotional when she heard they'd found Daniel's loader as well.

"They're the two survivors and it fits in the pieces of the puzzle, really," she said.

Pit Bottom in stone is a series of interconnected roadways leading off the main tunnel - about 350 metres before the rockfall.

Pattinson says the team completed a hazard assessment of the first roadway, but the forensic investigation is still some weeks away.

"Geotech-wise, stability-wise, the roadway's good. I'm not going to get into what we found forensically or seen as far as that goes," he said.

Eventually, Daniel Rockhouse's loader will also be brought to the surface.

When it is, his mum Sonya vows to be there.