A New Zealand ski guide has died after being swept away by an avalanche in Japan.

Sam Kerr, 35, was reportedly snowboarding in an off-limits area at the Niseko ski resort in Kutchan, Hokkaido where he ran guided adventure tours.

He was caught in an avalanche about 200m wide and 350m long. Kerr's body was later removed from under the snow.

Kerr posted a photo of himself in the snow to Facebook just hours before the tragedy.

Advertisement

A Givealittle page has been set up to raise funds to bring his body back to New Zealand and support his family.

The Givealittle page said he was passionate about the outdoors, and died doing what he loved.

Friends have paid tribute to Kerr on Facebook, saying a tragedy had claimed the life of a "lovely, genuine guy".

"Dear Sam, we all loved your smile and massive heart - you will be sorely missed. Dear Yuka and Rui, please hang in there - we are here to help," said Ben Clark.

Bevan Colless said the Niseko community will come together to support Kerr's family.

"Say it's not so. Such a great person with an infectious energy and love for life. No one ever had a bad word to say about him. RIP Sam. The Niseko community will come together to help your family."

Others have thanked Kerr for unforgettable "good times" spent in the snow.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: "The Ministry is aware of the death of a New Zealander in Hokkaido.

"The New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo has offered consular assistance to the family of the deceased."