A New South Wales policeman has been killed in an avalanche while hiking in the South Island.
The off-duty 40-year-old officer was buried after he and a companion are thought to have triggered a small avalanche while climbing down the Eugenie Glacier at Aoraki Mount Cook National Park about 1.30pm yesterday, police say.
Today New Zealand police named the man as Nathan Deutschbein, aged 40.
NSW Police say he was a leading senior constable with the Blue Mountains Police Area Command.
"NSW Police have offered support and condolences to the officers wife and family," a spokesperson said.
The hiking pair had turned back due to poor weather when the 20-metre wave travelled 300 metres and pushed them into a crevasse.
The second man, left with minor injuries, was unable to get to his friend in time, NZ police inspector Dave Gaskin told media.
He was later winched out by helicopter after setting off a locator beacon.
A third member of their party had been unwell in the morning and stayed behind in a hut. He and the injured hiker were later flown off the mountain.
Inspector Gaskin described the climbers as reasonably proficient and experienced.
An advisory yesterday morning warned of a moderate avalanche risk above 1200m, due to unstable snow and poor weather in the days prior, a Mountain Safety Council spokesman said.
"[It's] an inherently dangerous place to go," he told AAP.
An update later in the afternoon warned there was considerable risk from dangerous avalanche conditions in the area and said "cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making" were essential.
Rain had aggravated the risks in an already unforgiving environment, the Department of Conservation said.
"The snow at Eugenie Glacier was loose and slushy as warmer temperatures meant the snow hadn't frozen for several nights," said the department's Mount Cook operations manager, Brent Swanson.
Yesterday’s event was the second deadly avalanche at the national park in recent weeks.
Last month, on nearby Mount Hicks, New Zealand adventurer Jo Morgan managed to dig her way out of the snow that killed her two companions, Martin Hess and Wolfgang Maier.