Friends and family of an 18-year-old high school student who died after a party are devastated and in disbelief.

Bayli Marie Elliot, from Timaru, died shortly after midnight on Monday morning after gathering with friends to celebrate Labour Day Weekend in the South Canterbury town.

"The sudden loss of a friend or loved one is never easy, but to know that your daughter is never coming home is really really hard to comprehend," Ms Elliot's family said in a statement released today.

"Our family is devastated and we ask that the public and media respect our privacy while we come to terms with what has happened and work through our grief."


Earlier reports suggested the Mountainview High School student may have died from alcohol poisoning but police said the cause of death had yet to be determined.

"This tragedy could happen to anyone and the loss of Bayli is a reminder to us all how precious life is and how easy it can be taken away," a mourner wrote on an online remembrance page. "I am so very sorry for the loss of a beautiful young woman.

"To her friends please be careful, to her family I surround you in hugs and thoughts of peace from afar."

Canterbury Police said they would continue investigating the incident and Ms Elliot's death had also been referred to the coroner.

On Facebook, a friend of Ms Elliot's said the 18-year-old was "a beautiful and bright lady", taken too early.

Police said Victim Support was helping Ms Elliot's family.