Police have identified the human remains found on Aoraki-Mt Cook this year as a climber who went missing more than 40 years ago.
Canterbury police today announced that DNA testing on the remains recovered from the Tasman Glacier area of the mountain in February had confirmed the climber's identity as 19-year-old David Erik Moen
Mr Moen was climbing with an acquaintance when he was reportedly caught in an avalanche on September 16, 1973.
A plaque has been placed on a memorial in Mt Cook Village in his memory.
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Mr Moen's family said in a statement today that the uncertainty had been hard for them.
The young climber had lived life to the full and losing him so unexpectedly was difficult for everyone he knew, they said.
"We cannot put into words what it feels like to have David returned to us after all this time but we are taken back to when he first went missing back in 1973.
"David's spirit still remains in the beautiful, peaceful environment which claimed the life of a wonderful and dearly loved young man in the prime of his life."
Canterbury police Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said police would continue to support the family as they came to terms with Mr Moen's remains being returned to them.
Another set of historical remains were found near the Hochstetter Glacier at the start of March this year, but they had not been formally identified, he said.
"We are pleased that we have been able to return David to his immediate family. He was lost in tragic circumstances doing a sport he loved," he said.
The coroner is considering whether a previous inquest into Mr Moen's death should be reopened.