An Australian soldier on a survival training exercise has died after falling down a deep crevasse on on Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain.
Emergency services were told of the incident at 12.18pm today and the Alpine Rescue Team from Mount Cook village went to the area.
The body of the 44-year-old has been recovered and has been flown back to the Mount Cook Emergency Service Centre.
The Australian Defence Force has confirmed the man was an Australian solider. He was on the mountain as part of a group of ten involved in a training exercise.
The police are advising the man's next of kin and the matter has been referred to the coroner
Mount Cook is on New Zealand's South Island and is more than 3500 metres high.
The conditions at the plateau can be extreme, with winds reaching 120km/h and July temperatures plunging well into the negative.
According to a statement issued by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, a large rock avalanche hit the mountain's south face on Wednesday.
The avalanche engulfed one of the department's alpine huts. The hut is in a remote area that can only be accessed by experienced hikers and the department says it has no record of visitors to that area at the time of the avalanche.
Department of Conversation services manager Mike Davies said it is carrying out initial inspections by helicopter.
“We are working with GNS Science to assess the stability of the area enabling us to carry out a more detailed investigation of the rock fall and the damage,” Mr Davies said.
“Until that assessment is complete we are asking climbers and other visitors to keep out of the Noeline Glacier region of the upper Hooker valley.”
New Zealand Alpine Club general manager Sam Newton told Fairfax Media the avalanche was rare.
More to come.