The National Rescue Co ordination Centre has handed over the search for an aircraft missing between Nelson and Canterbury to Canterbury Police.
Senior Sergeant Dick PETTET says that the Cessna 182 was reported overdue this morning.
"It had left Nelson yesterday with two people on board as far as is known. It had been expected at a private airfield at Aylsebury (between West Melton and Kirwee, west of Christchurch) at 4.40pm yesterday 7 August, but was not reported overdue until this morning," he said.
"A member of the public walking on Leithfield Beach at 9.40 this morning found the body of a female person," he says. "When police arrived they discovered the body of a male about 1km away."
The bodies were removed to Christchurch Public Mortuary where they are in the process of being identified.
A TV3 helicopter found an aircraft wheel 5km further up the beach. Over the afternoon further pieces of wreckage have been located on the coast but not the main fuselage.
Civil Aviation will be doing an investigation of the crash which will eventually be reported to the Coroner.
CAA will continue searching for the plane. Anyone who was in the North Canterbury area yesterday afternoon who saw or heard anything after 4pm which might be relevant, is asked to contact Senior Constable Rob Irvine at Amberley Police.