Australian airlifted from Mt Aspiring had been rescued before

Australian soldier Terry Harch is recovering in Dunedin Hospital with his family, after his airlift rescue off Mt Aspiring late on Friday.

He'd spent seven days on the mountain, but it's been revealed it's not the first time he's called for help from New Zealand's search and rescue crews.

It was a major operation involving three rescue helicopters from Southern Lakes and Aspiring, along with more than 30 other crew on land or up the mountain.

Neville Blakemore from the Rescue Coordination Centre says it was indeed a huge effort.

"One of the better and biggest SARs that we've done in New Zealand for a wee while I think."

Army soldier Mr Harch has been described as a "snowman" due to his alpine skills. He'd climbed Aoraki Mt Cook several times, summiting it in 2014 to raise money for Australian defence charity Soldier On.

Soldier On Australia deputy CEO Mat Jones says he's glad he's safe.

"Really great news to hear about the safe rescue of Terry - he's just one of those extraordinary Australians with that adventurous spirit who gets around the world doing amazing things."

But reports have surfaced revealing this wasn't his first rescue in New Zealand. In January 2013, Mr Harch had to be airlifted off Mt Tasman along with a British climber. The pair had spent two nights sheltering in a narrow crevasse below a massive ice cliff, after veering off course during their descent.

"We know that he's been rescued once before," said Mr Blackmore. "But it's pretty much like a person having a puncture in a car - it'll happen again sometime during your life. So the chances are these guys are out doing outdoor activities [so] they could need rescuing more than once."

Figures from the Mountain Safety Council reveal a quarter of mountaineering fatalities here are Australian. That's largely a reflection of increased participation, with easy access direct into Queenstown.

But visitors are being warned about New Zealand's tougher conditions, especially at this time of the year.

Mountain Safety Council CEO Mike Daisley says people need to weigh up the risk versus reward.

"The avalanche forecast was high; the weather forecast was extremely poor. But for some people that sounds like a great day out, and that's the challenge in terms of people looking for that risk versus reward."

Mr Harch was in a stable condition when he arrived at Dunedin Hospital on Friday night, but suffering frostbite to his hands and feet.

His family are now with him, but have requested privacy as he recovers.