Friends and colleagues of a Melbourne couple who died after falling in the Mt Cook National Park have paid tribute to the mountaineering pair.
Stuart Jason Holloway and Dale Amanda Thistlethwaite died after falling near the top of Mt Silberhorn on December 29. Their bodies were spotted yesterday morning on the mountain's upper slopes and were recovered yesterday afternoon.
Mr Holloway, 42, was a highly respected and experienced mountain guide and his partner, Ms Thistlethwaite, 35, was also a very experienced climber, police said.
The pair had been travelling and climbing in New Zealand since early December.
Their bodies were found roped together, which suggested one may have fell, causing the other to also fall, inspector Dave Gaskin said.
The families of the pair have been informed and their deaths will be referred to the coroner.
Melbourne University Mountaineering Club president Daniel Cocker said the couple were life members of the group "due to their incredible achievements and commitment to the club and its members".
"We are mourning the loss of two very central members of our community," he said in a statement.
"Today we have lost two great friends and mentors. Dale and Stu you will be sorely missed."
Ms Thistlethwaite worked at the Victorian Auditor-General's Office, and had worked at Parks Victoria.
In a statement, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings paid tribute to the pair.
"All Victorians are thinking of their families and loved ones at this difficult time," he said.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs is providing assistance to the families of the pair.
Mr Hollaway and Ms Thistlethwaite are the second and third Melburnians to die on a mountain in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in under two weeks.
Nicola Anne Andrews, 28, died when she fell 300 metres from the side of The Footstool on to the Eugenie Glacier on December 23.