Police have released the names of two Australian climbers who died after falling from Mt Silberhorn in the Southern Alps on Tuesday.

They were 42-year-old Stuart Jason Hollaway and 35-year-old Dale Amanda Thistlethwaite, both of Melbourne.

Police said Mr Hollaway was a highly respected and experienced mountain guide and Ms Thistlethwaite was also an experienced climber.

The pair had been climbing in New Zealand since early December.


Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said inquiries indicated they fell from near the top of the mountain early on Tuesday. The deaths would be referred to the coroner.

Mr Gaskin said yesterday that the climbers were thought to have camped near the summit of the mountain the night before their fatal fall.

They were thought to have been just 50 metres from their camp when something went wrong.

An ice axe was spotted dug into the mountain side about 700 metres above their bodies, he said.

"They're both roped together so one may have fallen and then pulled the other or they may both have fallen together, we can't figure that out at this stage," he said.

"It's very sad. A couple of families are going to have their new year completely ruined which is just terrible," Mr Gaskin said.

"The thrill of climbing, it's all part of it. People can't sit in cotton wool all their lives, you take risks and sometimes unfortunately you fail."

There have now been four deaths in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in about five weeks.

On December 23, Australian woman Nicola Anne Andrews, 29, died while climbing The Footstool, a 2764m mountain north of Aoraki/Mt Cook, when she fell 300m.

Stephen Dowall, 52, went missing on November 26 after going climbing with a friend.

The pair had left Mt Cook Village about 4am that day, intending to reach the Empress Hut at the head of the Hooker Glacier. But they became separated in the afternoon and Mr Dowall failed to reach the hut.

At least 240 people have died climbing Mt Cook, and dozens of bodies have never been recovered.