Two dead after avalanche near Mt Cook

Mt Cook
Jo Morgan has been rescued from an avalanche on Mt Cook Photo credit: Supplied/Getty

Two mountain guides have died after becoming caught in an avalanche near Mt Cook.

Police confirmed the men were dead and their bodies are being removed from the scene.

A Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) spokesperson previously told Newshub the men had been found and were receiving treatment, but they later said this was incorrect.

The avalanche struck Mt Hicks on the western side of Mt Cook National Park early on Wednesday. 

The wife of entrepreneur and former politician Gareth Morgan, Jo, managed to dig herself out and was rescued. She is safe at Mt Cook village. 

Police confirmed a party of three people were ascending Mt Hicks when they became caught in the avalanche. 

Ms Morgan, an experienced climber, had been posting updates on her climb on Facebook. The latest said the trio planned to leave Empress hut at 2am.  Ms Morgan set off a locator beacon at 6:45am alerting the RCCNZ.

Her daughter Jessi commented on her post saying "Just an update that Jo is safe and back at Mt Cook village. Thanks for all your support and messages". 

Department of Conservation director general Lou Sanson who is reportedly with Ms Morgan has been contacted for comment.

Gareth Morgan has also been contacted for comment. 

Three helicopters and the Department of Conservation Mount Cook rescue team attended the incident.

Nick Kingstone of the Mountain Safety Council told Newshub there was a high avalanche warning on the mountain. 

It isn't uncommon for mountaineers to climb in dangerous conditions, he says.

"It's a dangerous environment, going into a mountain, there's no way around that."

The men's deaths will be refered to the Coroner.