A New Zealander holidaying at a Japanese ski resort witnessed an avalanche engulf and kill two friends at the weekend.

Agence France-Presse reports a New Zealand man was with an Australian woman and two Argentine men, aged 50 and 54, at Ryuoo Ski Park in Nagano, about 400km northwest of Tokyo, on Sunday.

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"When they skied off-piste shortly after 2pm, an avalanche occurred and engulfed the two Argentines," AFP quoted a police spokeswoman saying.


"Their friends made an emergency call and rescuers found their bodies in the snow." Local police said the avalanche was 30 metres wide and 200 metres long.

It came after another double-fatal avalanche the day before at Niigata prefecture north of Nagano. A 48-year-old Japanese male snowboarder and a 35-year old man died after an avalanche hit an off-piste area of a ski resort, APF reports.

Police also said rescuers were searching for three Japanese in their 50s and 60s who went missing while mountaineering on skis in Nagano.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) today said it was aware of reports of a New Zealander in the avalanche area.

"However, neither Mfat nor the embassy were approached for consular assistance in this instance," a spokeswoman said.