A trio of friends, a football loving dad and an adventurous mother and daughter are among seven Australians identified as victims of the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand.
The deaths of Coffs Harbour friends Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer were confirmed on Wednesday night by their six travelling companions as the Australian death toll continues to rise.
Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, his 15-year-old stepdaughter Zoe Hosking and Brisbane mother and daughter Julie and Jessica Richards have also been confirmed as victims.
Mr Griffiths died in hospital after suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body in Monday's eruption while Ms Mathews and her partner Mr Elzer are among eight bodies believed to be still on the island where authorities say there is no sign of life.
The nine friends were holidaying together on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship when Mr Griffiths, Ms Mathews and Mr Elzer joined a tour on Monday of White Island, home to New Zealand's most active volcano.
"Some time later, we discovered that two of our friends, Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews, were still on the island," their friends Alex, Daniel, Ellie, Leanne, Paul and Samantha said in a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
"We have been advised that there are no signs of life on the island.
"We then located our third friend, Jason Griffiths, in a hospital in the early hours of the next morning. From that moment until the moment of his passing, Jason was surrounded by friends and family members.
"We are incredibly saddened to have lost three of our closest friends."
Apart from Mr Griffiths, all were on a list of nine missing people issued by New Zealand police, which included two local men who have also been confirmed dead.
The ninth person on the list is Victorian woman Krystal Browitt.
Two Sydney families are also unaccounted for, while around a dozen Australians are in hospital, some with critical injuries from the toxic ash and volcanic gases following the eruption.
New Zealand officials had kept the official death toll at six as conditions remained too dangerous for recovery crews to reach the island on Wednesday.
But the confirmed deaths of the Australians and the two New Zealanders lift the toll to nine.
The body of Mr Dallow, 53, had been found and identified by police, his family said on Wednesday.
They said Zoe was also presumed dead on White Island.
His wife, Zoe's mother Lisa Dallow, 48, remains in hospital in Hamilton with serious burns.
"Gavin was a wonderful son and brother. We'll miss him at the cricket and we'll miss him at the football," the Dallow family said in a statement.
"Our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age."
The family of Ms Richards, 47, and Jessica, 20, were "united in grief," said friend John Mickel.
"The family have asked me to describe Julie and Jess as being outdoor, adventurous people," Mr Mickel said.
"If there was an adventure that offered itself, then they would go."
All were on a tour of White Island, also known as Whakaari, from the Ovation of the Seas which was moored on the North Island, around 50km away.
Fears are also held for the Hollander and Langford families from Sydney.
Martin and Barbara Hollander and their sons Berend and Matthew were on holiday in New Zealand from their northern Sydney home and have not been heard from, although they don't appear on the police missing list.
Anthony and Kristine Langford, son Jesse, 19, and daughter Winona, 17, are also unaccounted for.
Australian Associated Press