A German backpacker is lucky to be alive after sliding 50 metres down an icy slope near the summit of Mt Tongariro.
Taupo police said the 19-year-old and his three companions were on the alpine crossing when he slipped and fell while on the side trip to the summit. They said it was fortunate that he stopped before falling over a bluff.
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said the icy surface meant nobody was able to climb down to him and it was too risky to use a helicopter to hover above him in such a precarious position.
He said a two-man team from the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation, equipped with crampons and ice axes, managed to rescue the man.
The air temperature was zero degrees with the wind chill making it feel like minus 10, and Mr Shepherd said it was disturbing to see that the injured man was lightly clad in shorts and running shoes.
The man suffered injuries to his feet and legs and was taken to Rotorua Hospital.