A Japanese climber was plucked alive by rescuers from New Zealand's highest peak shortly after dawn Friday, but his companion was found dead, searchers said.

Tokyo residents Hideaki Nara, 51, and Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, had been trapped for a week by bad weather on a ledge of the Empress Plateau on Aoraki — also known as Mount Cook.

Both climbers were found out in the open on Friday morning and it appeared their tent had either been engulfed in snow or had blown away in a storm near the top of the 12,316-foot mountain, police Inspector Dave Gaskin said.

The surviving man was immediately taken to the hospital by helicopter. The body of the second climber was later recovered by the helicopter team and taken to the rescue base at Mount Cook, Gaskin said.

Gaskin declined to identify which man died and which survived because authorities had not yet informed the dead man's relatives.

The rescued climber "is in a remarkable condition, he has frost bite ... but nothing too severe from what I understand," he said.

"At that altitude for that length of time it's ... a mystery how one survived at all, actually," he said. "It's extreme and a very, very hard area and you don't get second chances. One of them was very lucky and one of them unfortunately wasn't."