An Australian soldier stranded for the best part of a week on a New Zealand mountain has been rescued, days after his emergency locator beacon was first detected.
Four alpine rescuers equipped with clothes, tents and much-needed food spent the night with Lt Harch to await rescue as helicopters patiently waited for a window in harsh conditions on Friday.
He was rescued on Friday after rescuers reached Harch on Thursday afternoon, but poor weather hampered helicopter rescue operations until Friday afternoon.
The climber entered the national park last Friday and is thought to have left his heavier gear behind to make a quick ascent - not unusual practice - before being caught out by the weather. A friend advised police on Monday that Harch was missing and the climber triggered his beacon about 12:15 pm that day.
The 29-year-old was reportedly in good spirits despite suffering from slight frostbite after spending a week in the freezing conditions that plummeted to sub-zero the past two nights.
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Lunt also told a local news organization that it was possible that Harch used his army training to survive, building himself a "snow shelter".
"He rang the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand, then they called us with the positions", RCCNZ senior search and rescue member Jeff Lunt said.
"We give all due high praise to the Wanaka Alpine Rescue crew and helicopter crews and police; they've been just fantastic".
When the Southern Lakes and Mt Aspiring helicopters arrived to rescue the man at about 5pm on Thursday, he was standing and waving, Roberts said.
The weather forecast for today is heavy rain, some thunderstorms, northerly winds of 50-60kph and the temperature at 1800m is between -2C and 0C.
The region has seen a lot of fresh snow in the past few days.
"The pilots did an awesome job to fly in and out, despite the low cloud (on Thursday)", Mr Roberts said. The wind chill factor is minus 16 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and the avalanche advisory is high.
Over the past decade more than 30 people have died in and around Mount Aspiring National Park, one of country's most popular playgrounds for adventure-seekers.