Hokkaido avalanche: Second Kiwi killed named as tour guide Joshua Sellens - report

The second Kiwi who was killed in a Japanese avalanche while backcountry skiing earlier this week has been named.   

Japan Today is reporting Joshua Sellens, a 33-year-old guide, was the other Kiwi killed in the avalanche that struck Mt Yōtei in Hokkaido on Monday.  

Sellens is listed as the co-founder of Japan-based adventure company Niseko Zen.   

"He pretty much lives in ski boots during the winters, chasing steep and deep lines across Hokkaido, sipping that always inviting, piping hot tea above the most exhilarating skiing this island has to offer," the company's website said. 

"When the weather turns warm, the waterman in him wakes up and when the skis are finally storage waxed (on the border of spring and summer), the kites and surfboards take priority. Oh, that and beachside campfires after a hardy day at sea."  

A third Kiwi was injured in the avalanche, with Kyodo News identifying him as 21-year-old Lars Meier Blattner. He resides in the town of Rankoshi and sustained a shoulder injury. 

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

Isabella Bolton, 21, was earlier named as the other Kiwi killed in the avalanche.  

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

"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," the family said.   

"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."  

Isabella Bolton.
Isabella Bolton. Photo credit: Supplied

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.