A woman whose body was discovered in an alpine stream 13 days after she went missing last year died accidentally, Christchurch Coroner Richard McElrea has found.

Issuing a preliminary finding in his reconvened inquest into the death of 26-year-old teacher Carla Devita Scott, Mr McElrea ruled out suicide despite evidence that Miss Scott had been depressed and was seeing a counsellor shortly before her disappearance.

Miss Scott's body was found in the Devil's Punchbowl Creek in Arthurs Pass National Park in October.

Ground and helicopter searches failed to find her, and a tramping party stumbled across her submerged body.

At the opening of the inquest on July 7, pathologist Martin Sage told the coroner Miss Scott probably drowned after being knocked unconscious.

Miss Scott, the daughter of Wellington economist and former Treasury secretary Graham Scott, suffered from multiple sclerosis. This was noted in Dr Sage's report as possibly affecting her mobility, agility and balance.

In Dr Sage's opinion, her injuries were unlikely to have been fatal, but were likely to have caused unconsciousness and would lead to drowning if her head was immersed.

Dr Sage said there were no signs of assault or forced restraint, nor of a fall or jump from a great height.

In submissions to the coroner, Scott family lawyer Nicholas Davidson, QC, said the scene where Miss Scott died indicated an accident. The terrain was difficult, with large rocks and boulders, and very slippery.

Miss Scott had told her parents she would visit the family bach at Arthurs Pass when she was feeling better, and there were strong indications her health was improving.

"She was on the way up, not the way down," Mr Davidson said.

"It all fits with a terrible accident."

Mr McElrea said he had indicated at a pre-inquest conference that the evidence at that time would not support a finding of suicide.

He said the evidence showed Miss Scott felt confident and secure and that "life was getting better for her" just before she decided to make the trip to Arthurs Pass.

"It would seem that Carla Scott sought the solitude of a place she knew and loved and possibly saw it as a challenge to walk the track."

"The court is satisfied that Carla Devita Scott went to that region for very positive reasons and accidentally met her death."

- NZPA