After a tense 12 hours huddled behind a bush on Mt Ruapehu, freezing, lost and alone, Jackson Alexander was plucked to safety by a rescue team.
Late Sunday night the 21-year-old was found exhausted, saturated and with a broken rib, as snow fell around him in an area known as Skippers Canyon, by a Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation team.
Alexander, who has stage-four melanoma skin cancer, said he told himself, "I won't die on this mountain".
"I had to keep trying to stay warm, so I would rub my legs and body, but I just had to wait and hope."
The former Napier Boys' High School student lost track of his friends on Sunday about lunchtime and became disorientated in poor visibility.
He said he lost his way and unfortunately and took the wrong route.
"I snowboarded down to what I thought was snow but ended up hitting ice and sliding down out of control and smashing into a rock.
"I gathered myself up and didn't see any blood, but that must have been where I broke my rib. I knew I had to begin walking down the mountain."
He walked for about five hours beside a river until night began to set in.
"I had no phone or light so I needed to find a shelter for the night as it was snowing and windy."
Luckily, he found a bush and huddled behind it.
He spent the next few hours doing whatever he could to keep warm, brushing off any water that fell on him.
Exhausted and saturated, he eventually dozed off.
"As I was sleeping I could hear noises, then saw some lights out of the corner of my eye and I was just so thankful. I couldn't believe they had found me."
The rescue team made up of Turoa and Whakapapa Ski Patrol and members from Hillary Outdoors had tracked him from where he had slid down by the river, finding his keys and snowboard before following footprints.
"They told me people died out there before and they didn't think I would have made it through the night. I am just so thankful to them saving me."
It was also a long night for his parents who were waiting at home in Hawke's Bay, hoping for a call to say he had been found.
His father, Simon Alexander, said they were thinking "this was not how Jackson is supposed to die".
"He cheated death. He was unlucky at the start but very lucky in the end. This is the sort of thing movies are made from."
Jackson Alexander was escorted down the mountain and taken by ambulance to hospital in the early hours of Monday morning, where he was found to have broken a rib.
He said it could have been a lot worse and he was just pleased to be back with others and in the warmth again.
"I am like a cat, I have nine lives," he joked.