LATEST: The names of two men who fell to their deaths at Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park at the weekend have been released.
The first was Duncan Robert Rait, 36, a New Zealander living in Melbourne, who died after falling 150 metres on Friday.
He had been with a group of ski mountaineers who were dropped off near the Tasman Saddle Hut. After the helicopter left, they started making their way down the ridge to the hut a few hundred metres away.
While walking to the hut, Rait, an experienced alpinist, slipped on ice and fell down a gully and over a bluff.
Although not a factor in the accident, rescue efforts were hampered by weather conditions, police said.
The rescue team was dropped at the hut and then descended from there to where Rait was, as the helicopter became grounded due to poor weather.
The second was Englishman Robert Buckley, 32, who fell 700 metres near the Mount Sefton Bivvy, above the Mueller Glacier, late Saturday afternoon. He had been living and working in Christchurch.
Mr Buckley had been climbing with three others. They had hired some climbing equipment earlier in the day and had managed to get within 80 meters of the bivvy when Buckley slipped on ice.
After the accident, his companions raised the alarm, but then got stuck.
A helicopter with a rescue team on board found Buckley and the others but they had to stay in position overnight until the weather was suitable to carry them out by rescue helicopter yesterday morning.
''After a cold night on the mountain the three remaining team members were rescued and after being checked out by medical staff were released. Although extremely cold, none had any injuries,'' said Mid South Canterbury area police commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.
Mr Buckley's body was recovered in the afternoon, and taken to Mt Cook Village initially, then on to Timaru Hospital. Both accidents have been referred to the coroner.
With two deaths at the park this weekend, Inspector Gaskin said police and rescuers were pushed to their limits.
''Resources are tight, there's no doubt about that. It's been very difficult, but the guys have done a wonderful job.''
Police said it appeared the group was insufficiently equipped and inexperienced for the climb.
''I can't speak for the first death, but in [Buckley's] case it looks likely to be a lack of experience,'' he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News