The keen heli-skier killed in an avalanche near Queenstown yesterday has been remembered as a "straightforward good guy and family man" who loved the outdoors.

Skier Roger Greville, a 58-year-old originally from Northland who had been living in Sydney, died after being pulled from snow near the Devil's Staircase, near Queenstown, about 2.45pm.

READ MORE: Man dies after being buried by avalanche on heli-ski trip

The experienced skier and cyclist was one of a party of five on a guided trip run by Southern Lakes Heliski.


Today, close friend Murray Gribben paid tribute to Mr Greville who visited his home country every winter for heli-skiing.

"He lived life to the full - a straightforward good guy and family man," said Mr Gribben who worked with the father-of-two at AMP.

"He was a colleague and a really good friend. He was very straight-forward about everything he did. He never left you wondering about what he was doing and what he wanted to do.

"He will be well missed."

As Mr Greville's family arrive in Queenstown today, the ski operator has suspended its heli-ski operations.

The company said the decision was taken despite excellent snow and weather conditions coupled with an assessment of a low avalanche risk.

"Whilst other companies may continue to operate, a decision to resume our operations will be made later today when we have had time to complete a detailed analysis of yesterday's events as well as our systems and procedures," said Southern Lakes Heliski director Julian Field.

"We remain committed to aiding the external investigation team and have confidence that they will be able to determine the exact cause of this tragic accident."


While heli-skiing was not considered to be dangerous, Mr Field said that like any adventure activity, it carried "inherent risk".

"We take our responsibilities very seriously which is reflected in the fact that this is the first incident of this kind for our company and its predecessors in over 30 years of operations," he said.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the deceased."

Although Mr Greville was initially pulled from the avalanche debris, he died shortly after.

Police said the cause of death was still unknown, and had been referred to the coroner.

A post-mortem examination was scheduled for this morning.Local police staff had been working closely with the Australian Embassy, and a number of Mr Greville's family were due to arrive today.

The family has asked for privacy.One of Southern Lakes Heliski's pilots called the company's operations team at 2.38pm to say that a group of skiers had been involved in an avalanche on the Hector Mountains.It was confirmed one skier had been buried in snow, and emergency response procedures were activated immediately.

At 2.48pm, the company received confirmation that the skier had been located.

However, despite the efforts of guides and paramedics Mr Greville was pronounced dead at the scene.

Regional avalanche forecaster Chris Cochrane said there had been strong southerly winds in the last 24 hours that had caused "wind slab" conditions, where there was very stiff snow, causing tension in the snow pack.

In his bulletin yesterday he had said the weight of a single person could be enough to trigger an event."It's just an inherent danger that is always present in the back country."