Australian woman dives to death while mountain climbing in New Zealand

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A view of Mount Taranaki near New Plymouth September 26, 2011. Reuters/Bogdan Cristel

A 29-year-old Australian woman fell to her death from 300 metres while climbing a mountain in Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park located in New Zealand’s south island. Rescue teams were sent to the location immediately after members of a climbing party on the Eugene Glacier set off a locator beacon at 8:25 a.m. on Wednesday.

The woman was airlifted by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter sent from Christchurch to the location and taken to the Aoraki Mount Cook Search and Rescue Base, where she received immediate medical treatment.

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said that the woman passed away a short time after. He added that the woman was well equipped and was an experienced climber. The weather conditions at the mountains were also good. According to the police, the death was an accident. The incident has been reported to the coroner.

The woman fell 300 metres from near the peak of the 2,764-metre Footstool mountain onto a glacier.

"The other members of the climbing party have been airlifted back to Mt Cook village and are helping police piece together what led to the accident occurring," Gaskin was quoted by News Corp.

The woman’s name is expected to be released after the news of her death is communicated to her family.

In late November, another climber Stephen Dowall, a UN-worker based in Myanmar, died while attempting to reach the Empress Hut in Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park.  The climbing companion of the 52-year-old, Wanaka's Rob Hawes, reported him missing after the two got separated.

Climbers have been urged by police to carry a locator beacon so that help can reach them quickly in case of emergency.

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