A woman who survived an ill-fated rafting trip that claimed the life of her Oscar winner husband by clinging to a ledge as waters raged around her has died.
Nicci Hopkins was discovered dead in her Greytown home last Thursday after a friend became concerned when she did not arrive for work. Masterton police confirmed today there were no suspicious circumstances and her death had been referred to the coroner.
It marks a tragic chapter in the 48-year-old's life after her celebrated Hollywood sound editor husband Mike Hopkins drowned in a flash flood that swept down a Tararua Range gorge in 2012.
The pair and a companion were hurled into the water when their inflatable dinghy flipped on the surging Waiohine River.
Nicci spent two hours clinging to a ledge before an heroic rescue was mounted by a local jet boat operator.
While the third rafter made it to safety the body of Hopkins, who won sound editing Oscars for his work on Sir Peter Jackson's The Two Towers and King Kong, was discovered downstream.
Grieving family today gathered in the small Wairarapa township to farewell the woman they described as a treasured member of their family.
"Your spirit touched each one of us, forever we will cherish you," read an online tribute.
A close family member posted a touching message the husband and wife would once again be reunited.
"Run free Nicci, I'm sure Mike will be holding you in his arms," read the heartfelt tribute from step-brother John and wife Caitlin Ryan, referring to the tragic events of three years prior.
Another mourner said Nicci would be remembered as a "bubbly, brave and determined person".
The tribute said she would be missed by her wider family along with her "numerous friends and the many people and associates Nicci has been in contact with in her professional life".
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