An Auckland mountaineer missing on the North Island's highest peak called police to say he was lost and then kept in touch for the next 12 hours awaiting rescue.

Searchers worked through the night after the mountain climber became separated from a group and ended up lost on Mt Ruapehu yesterday evening.

He called police around 6.40pm to raise the alarm.

The Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation used snow ploughs to try reach him after bad weather hampered a search by air.

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But at daybreak the weather finally cleared, with the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter able to fly over the Tongariro National Park.

The missing man was soon found, with the helicopter hovering off the side of the mountain to load him onboard and airlift him to safety.

Pilot Lance Burns said the man was spotted on a ridge on the north-west side of Ruapehu, west of the Whakapapa skifield, at sunrise.

Despite his ordeal the climber appeared to be in good health.

"He was very grateful we were able to get him," said Burns.

A police spokeswoman said the missing man was in touch with police throughout the night after hiking to a high point to get cellphone coverage.

He was able to reassure those looking for him he was fine.

He told police he had been with a party climbing on the mountain but had come separated from the group.

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Despite spending an unexpected night out in the open he had survived with appropriate clothing for the sub-zero temperatures as well as food and water.

The man was taken to a medical centre at the Top of the Bruce for a check-up after being rescued around 7am.