Bevan Lambess, who witnessed the crash, told local television news how the tragedy unfolded before his eyes.
"The whole basket started to go up in flames. I could see two people perhaps – I couldn't see anyone else, I was pretty shocked when I heard it was eleven. Then after that I got to the corner and I saw, it must have been released or the line got released off the basket – it went straight up in the air and the flames just engulfed the whole balloon and then it just crashed to the ground," he said.
Police confirmed that they will not release the names of the victims until all family members have been informed.
The accident is the New Zealand's worst air disaster since an Antarctic sightseeing flight crashed into Mt Erebus in 1979, killing all 257 people on board.