Mt Cook tragedy: 'Shattered' Jo Morgan digs her way out of avalanche as two guides are swept to their death

The lone survivor of a deadly avalanche in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park this morning dug her way out and set off an emergency locator beacon to get help.

The survivor Jo Morgan, mother of Trade Me founder Sam and wife of well known public figure Gareth Morgan, set off her locator beacon at around 6am. 

Department of Conservation (DOC) director general Lou Sanson described her actions as a "textbook recovery".

But he also said she was "heartbroken", with two fellow climbers - both guides known to local DoC staff - losing their lives in the avalanche.

"There has clearly been a large avalanche come off Mt Hicks into Harper Saddle," Sanson told the NZ Herald.

"She has done an amazing job extricating herself. She had her PLB right close to her body which has undoubtedly saved her life's just so sad for the other two."

A personal locator beacon was set off early this morning, with two men and a woman in trouble. Source: Breakfast

After setting off for the Mt Hicks' peak soon after 2am, the avalanche struck at 5.30am as the group was ascending.

The bodies of two male guides have now been recovered.

1 NEWS has been told the avalanche was the size of three tennis courts.

Mrs Morgan's daughter Jessi wrote on Facebook soon after 9am: "Just an update that Jo is safe and back at Mt Cook village. Thanks for all your support and messages."

Yesterday, Mrs Morgan posted to her Facebook about the arduous climb to summit Mt Hicks.

Jo Morgan.
Jo Morgan. Source: Facebook.

"It has been bleak up here at Empress hut the last couple of days but a 20 hour weather window has us planning to leave about 2am. Hopefully Mt Hicks feels like visitors."

Mrs Morgan has been trying to climb all peaks over 3000m high in New Zealand, son Floyd told 1 NEWS.

He had not spoken with his mum yet, but knew she was safe. He was thinking of the other people involved.