A young woman on a camping holiday has been shot in the head and killed while brushing her teeth by a hunter who thought she was an animal.

Her partner and others spent a desperate 90 minutes trying to keep her alive in a remote area of bush near Turangi.

The woman was Rosemary Margaret Ives, a 25-year-old secondary school teacher from Lower Hutt.

"People were around the girl's body and her partner was doing CPR on her," said Youthtown Trust Rescue Helicopter pilot Hendry De Waal. "He did well, he just carried on until we got there, he didn't give up on her."

De Waal arrived with two paramedics close to midnight on Friday to take over efforts to save the woman's life. He was told she was brushing her teeth and had been mistaken for a deer.

"Her boyfriend was in quite a bit of shock. I've been to incidents where people have shot themselves, or been shot in the shoulder or something - but this one was quite bad.

"Everyone is going up there and doing spotlighting. It's quite dangerous, especially when you don't know your way around. It's crazy stuff."

A 25-year-old Hamilton man has been charged with careless use of a firearm and will appear in the Taupo District Court on November 3.

It is understood he shot her from the road that runs alongside the camp site, after seeing her in his spotlight and thinking she was a deer or possum.

The woman, believed to be from Wellington, died metres from her tent in the Department of Conservation campsite on Kaimanawa Rd, near Turangi.

The couple were camping alongside a group of four trampers from Wellington and four backpackers from the Czech Republic.

After the shooting the hunters ran to the nearby campsite for help. A man there rushed to help the woman and said the scene was "ghastly".

The alleged shooter, who was with a group of hunters, was taken away from the scene.

The eight other campers were taken to a backpackers about 3.30am yesterday.

The manager, who did not want to be named, said the woman's partner was severely shaken up and was taken elsewhere.

"He was a mess. The others had a cup of tea and sat in the lounge until they felt so tired that they had to go to sleep. They weren't allowed to talk about it," he said.

"But they said that the young lady's hands were purple until they were doing compressions on her heart to keep her blood pumping around. Then her hands turned a normal colour."

He said the Wellington group left yesterday to carry on tramping. "They went to the Tongariro though. They didn't want to be anywhere near hunters. The other four are just taking time out. My heart goes out to her boyfriend."

Detective Senior Sergeant Todd Pearce refused to comment on the specifics.

The shooting has prompted warnings from hunting experts.

New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association spokesman Alec McIver said there were seven basic rules of safety.

"The main one is identify your target. That's a big part of it. It's always on your mind that it could be a person, not a deer."

He said it was not difficult to positively identify a target.

"You just have to be willing to let the animal run away. If you can't identify it totally, then don't shoot, just move on to the next one."

Local Department of Conservation public awareness officer David Conley said the site was popular with campers.

The basic rules for safe firearms handling:
* Treat each firearm as loaded.

* Always point it in a safe direction.

* Load only when ready to fire.

* Identify targets beyond all doubt.

* Store all firearms and ammunition safely.

* Never operate a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

- Additional reporting John Lazo-Ron, Leigh van der Stoep and NZPA