A woman has been found in deep snow drifts on Mt Ruapehu early this morning after an "epic" search and rescue effort overnight.

The woman was found about 2.30am after becoming lost while skiing on the Turoa ski field yesterday.

According to a Greenlea Rescue Helicopter media statement, she left the ski area boundary on her last run and followed the wrong valley.

Search and rescue teams were alerted when she failed to arrive at the Massey Ski Lodge.

Turoa ski patrol, Ruapehu alpine rescue, and LandSAR volunteers helped police cover a large area of the mountain using skis while the helicopter provided an aerial view with night vision goggles.

Advertisement
The lost skier was found at 2.30am in deep snow drifts. Photo/Greenlea Rescue Helicopter
The lost skier was found at 2.30am in deep snow drifts. Photo/Greenlea Rescue Helicopter

With deteriorating weather it was "silently acknowledged" she would be unlikely to survive the night in the open.

After hours of searching at about 2:30am one of the ski patrols spotted the woman huddled in a very steep gully in the bush line below the ski field at about 4800ft.

Search and rescue teams were alerted when she failed to arrive at the Massey Ski Lodge. Photo / Supplied
Search and rescue teams were alerted when she failed to arrive at the Massey Ski Lodge. Photo / Supplied

With the wind gusting and lowering cloud starting to partially obscure the mountain, the Greenlea Helicopter was able to hover load a RARO team member to a relatively close location.

He waded through chest deep snow drifts and helped the woman back to a suitable location for the helicopter to hover load her aboard.

National Park Police Constable Conrad Smith said she was one very lucky woman.

"She was mildly hypothermic but otherwise ok, just extremely grateful we'd managed to find her," he said.

"This is a timely reminder that people really need to follow the appropriate safety advice on our mountains.

"Skiers leaving the ski field boundary should always be travelling with at least one other person, and be carrying a transceiver, shovel and a probe at a minimum."

"Not only this, but people need to know how to use the gear," Mr Smith said.