Hokkaido avalanche: New Zealander killed named as 21yo Christchurch woman Isabella Bolton

One of the New Zealanders who died in an avalanche in Japan on Monday has been named as 21-year-old Isabella Bolton.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier confirmed two New Zealanders died in the avalanche after being taken to hospital in an unresponsive state. 

It happened on Mt Yōtei in Hokkaido. The second victim, a man in his 30s, has not yet been named.

In a statement, Bolton's family said Isabella was "full of vitality and passion for life".

"Born in Watford, England, Isabella grew up in Diamond Harbour and Heathcote Valley, attending Rangi Ruru Girls High School.

"Her adventurous spirit and love for skiing and the outdoors led her to study for a Diploma in Outdoor Adventure Guiding in Banff, Canada.

Isabella Bolton.
Isabella Bolton. Photo credit: Supplied

"Isabella has worked on ski fields in Canada, Tekapo and Wanaka, and in November 2023 travelled to Japan to pursue a job in Niseko, where she has thrived as a ski guide.

"Our family would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of her fellow colleague and friend whose life was also tragically lost. And to extend our gratitude to those who tried to save Isabella and the local authorities."

The family requested privacy while they "come to terms with our loss and bringing Isabella home to New Zealand".

Rangi Ruru acting principal Stephanie Barnett said Bolton was a "wonderfully charismatic person" as well as a "loyal and supportive friend".

"She was a student who showed great perseverance and a 'can do' attitude that made her a positive role model, and inspiration to us all," Barnett said in a statement. "She will be hugely missed."

Local police said the avalanche happened at about 10am on Monday (local time).

"The police say three out of a group of six backcountry skiers were caught in the avalanche and two of them, one man and one woman, were found unconscious," NHK reported. "The remaining skier reportedly was wounded but is conscious."

Local police and fire officials would investigate the accident, The Japan Times said.