The ski guide killed in Friday's avalanche in the Ragged Range near Methven had only three weeks ago escaped death in another fatal snow slide in the area.

Jonathan Morgan, 38, was one of two guides escorting three Australian skiers in the same Canterbury range on July 24 when an avalanche swept Llynden Riethmuller, 61, to his death.

Only moments before Friday's avalanche struck, Mr Morgan was telling his group of two Australians and a Japanese couple how he had helped dig Mr Riethmuller's body out of the snow.

"He (Morgan) said he had dug out the other guy and it was the first (dead) person he'd had to deal with in 15 years," Melbourne builder Dale Anderson, 39, told the Sunday Star-Times.

Mr Anderson spent Friday night at Ashburton Hospital with a badly bruised back, a chipped vertebra and grazes suffered in the avalanche, but was discharged yesterday afternoon on crutches.

He and his two Gold Coast friends Daryl Willsher, 40, and Stephen Herbert, 53, all experienced skiers, arrived in New Zealand last Wednesday to heliski. Mr Herbert was not with them when the avalanche hit.

Mr Anderson said they had all enjoyed a great day's skiing before the fatal run at 3pm.

"I took off behind the guide. It was great skiing. Then all I remember is looking down and the snow started to open up in parts it looked like an earthquake, and in other parts, it started to move like waves," he said.

He realised he was in an avalanche and tried to ski out of it. But something hit him in the head and he started tumbling.

"Then it stopped. I was buried in a few feet of snow but I could move my left foot so figured it was sticking out. I could wriggle my fingers and toes, so figured nothing major had been injured."

The Japanese man in the group saw his boot protruding from the snow and was able to dig him out.

Mr Willsher and the Japanese couple weren't buried.

The avalanche was several hundred metres wide on either side of the skiers.

Alpine Guides managing director Bryan Carter said Morgan had yelled "avalanche" on his radio while being swept down the mountain, which got help to the scene within 30 seconds of the snow slide stopping.

Mr Morgan was dug out unconscious but did not respond to desperate efforts over two hours to revive him.

The survivors were full of praise for their guide's safety conscious ways. "It was just a freak accident," Mr Anderson said.

Police said Mr Morgan's grieving partner was was being supported by family, friends and Victim Support. His parents were travelling to Methven yesterday.

The Department of Labour has launched an investigation, along with the police on behalf of the coroner, and by Alpine Guides itself.

Mr Morgan is the third person to die in an avalanche in recent weeks.

The avalanche risk for the area was last week downgraded from "high" to "considerable".

- NZPA