Two climbers have died on New Zealand's Mount Taranaki after they became trapped in a snow cave in freezing conditions.

The climbers, Nicole Sutton, 29, from Wellington, and Hiroki Ogawa, 31, a Japanese geoscientist, both Auckland members of the New Zealand Alpine Club, were in a relationship and had planned to marry.

Rescuers had been attempting to reach the pair since Saturday when other members of their climbing party managed to get down the mountain and raise the alarm.

Bad weather hindered the rescuers and by the time they finally reached the pair on Monday morning near the top of the 2500-metre mountain, Mr Ogawa had already died overnight.

Ms Sutton was still alive, and police commander Blair Telford said although rescuers attempted to bring her down "quickly and safely" she slipped into unconsciousness and died.

Keith Sutton, Nicole's father, said he received a text from his daughter on Sunday night saying she didn't think she'd survive.

He told a media conference that Mr Ogawa, an experienced mountaineer, tried to look after his daughter but "we know mountains are a nasty place when things go wrong".

Mr Ogawa, from Kanagawa in Japan, had studied at the University of Wollongong in NSW before moving to New Zealand to complete his doctorate at Auckland University.

 

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