Two trampers have died in separate incidents on the South island's West Coast.

A 32-year-old Christchurch woman died while attempting to cross the Deception River near Otira on the West Coast today. She was part of a party of five trampers who were 3km up the valley and moving towards Goat Valley when the incident occurred.

They were making their third crossing of the Deception River when the woman became detached from the group and was swept downstream.She was found by her companions about 1km downstream. They carried out CPR and called emergency services, but she died at the scene. Her body was flown to Greymouth.

"The party activated their EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) around 11am which meant a rescue chopper and other emergency services staff were able to go straight to the scene," Tasman Police District Command Centre Acting Senior Sergeant Wayne Corbett said.


Inquiries into the death were continuing."It's been a sad start to the year on the West Coast and our thoughts are with the victim's family and friends," Mr Corbett said.

Bruce Cameron of the Otira Hotel said he had called emergency services after being alerted to the incident by people from the woman's party.

"Two trampers came running into our hotel and wanted to ring 111, so we spoke to emergency services and organised the ambulance and tried to get a helicopter," he said.

"They said two doctors were up there tramping as well and they were doing CPR on her."

The hotel was "just down the road" from where the woman had drowned, he said.
Hotel staff had also called emergency services after a bus full of tourists collided with a van in the Otira Gorge on New Year's Eve, he said.

Meanwhile, a 54-year-old Canterbury man Eric Jacomb was believed to have fallen to his death yesterday in the Mawson Glacier, near the headwaters of the Whateroa River. His body was recovered by members of the South Westland Alpine Cliff Rescue team this morning.

Mr Jacomb was one of a party of five people tramping in the area, police said. He was separated from his companions yesterday and was supposed to meet them later in the day at the Top Butler Hut.

His friends became concerned when the man failed to arrive and used their hired mountain radio to raise the alarm around 6.30 last night.

Sergeant Sean Judd of West Coast Police search and rescue said said weather conditions were such that searchers were unable to get into the area last night. The Alpine Cliff Rescue Team flew in early this morning.

"The team sighted a body at the base of a bluff. It appears the man has slipped and tragically fallen to his death."

The victim has been flown to Fox Glacier and the rest of the party were flown to Franz Josef.