Mt Hutt ski area staff were first on the scene of a fatal crash which claimed the life of a man they knew, and worked with, this morning.
Tracks leading off the ski area's main access road - discovered about 7am - led them to a contractor's vehicle some distance off the road, with the driver's body found nearby.
It's understood his vehicle left the access road about 10.5km up and although the mountain's emergency procedure was immediately initiated, and emergency services contacted, the man showed no sign of life when mountain first aid staff reached the scene.
Mt Hutt's general manager of operations James Urquhart said it was a sad day for the ski area's staff. Counselling and the ski area's chaplain were being organised to help them through.
Mr Urquhart said details of how the man's vehicle came to leave the access road were still sketchy and the ski area's management's main priority was currently its staff and the dead man's family.
"It's a massive loss for us and for our staff. Our staff are devastated," Mr Urquhart said.
The man was not an employee of Mt Hutt Ski Area. He was an outside contractor but it's understood he'd worked on the mountain for a number of years and knew the access road well.
Ski area manager James McKenzie said police were at the scene. The contracting company had been informed and the driver's family notified.
More details would be confirmed by the police once initial investigations were complete. The Serious Crash Unit from Christchurch was also on its way.
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the driver at this tragic time," Mr McKenzie said.