Rescue operation underway for climbers hit by avalanche

Mount Cook in snow. - Photo: Unwin Lodge, Mt Cook

A rescue operation is underway for five climbers hit by an avalanche on Mt Cook.

Helicopters have been brought in to help with the rescue.

The avalanche was reported around 4.20pm.

Inspector Dave Gaskin said one person has moderate injuries, believed to be a dislocated shoulder.

He said the group set off a locator beacon which alerted emergency services in Wellington this afternoon.

He said they'll be airlifted off the slopes, to the Mount Cook village.

He said he understood the other members of the group had minor injuries.

The avalanche advisory service said there is considerable risk of avalanche on the upper slopes of Mount Cook, and that cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making is essential.

A local guide said strong wind over the weekend, along with fresh snow, has heightened the avalanche risk.