Concern is growing for a British tramper who failed to turn up for work yesterday after telling friends she was heading into Mt Aspiring National Park over the weekend.
Stephanie Simpson told friends of plans to attempt the challenging four-hour hike to Brewster Hut and then move on to Blue Pools on Saturday.
But she failed to show up to her landscaping job yesterday and none of her friends has heard from her since Friday.
Police said the 32-year-old was reported missing at 8.45am on Monday and a helicopter was out searching for her last night.
A team will be on the ground this morning to continue with the search.
It was unclear if Simpson was tramping alone.
A close friend told the Herald it would have just been "another weekend away tramping" for Simpson.
"She's strong, she's fit, she's capable. She's worked in the outdoors, she knows what she's up to."
She said Simpson arrived from Australia last year alone and has been living in Wanaka since July, working in landscaping.
The friend, who didn't want to be named, described the Brit as "outdoorsy, super friendly and super bubbly", and said she would explore the area as much as possible.
"She's a really beautiful, kind-hearted person. She can make friends in an instant, she's awesome. She's just here to tramp and see the country."
The friend hoped Simpson would turn up soon.
"It wouldn't surprise me if she did just rock up tonight and there's been a little something that's happened and she just needed to take an extra day," she said.
Her disappearance comes after heavy rain battered areas of Southland and Otago last week with rising rivers inundating low-lying homes, businesses and farms.
A state of emergency was declared in flooded Southland, where roads were closed and a steady downpour left homes and farms sodden.
The swollen rivers may have also been responsible for the deaths of two trampers who got into trouble while heading into the Mt Aspiring National Park.
Senior Sergeant Miriam Reddington said their bodies were found in the Makarora River, near the start of the Blue-Young link walking track and just upstream of the confluence of the Young River.
''All our inquiries indicate they were going for a hike.''
One body was recovered on Friday afternoon by the Wanaka Search and Rescue river rescue team, and the second on Saturday.
Reddington said police were trying to establish when the trampers had left.
The deaths were not considered suspicious, and police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, she said.
''We think they have just come unstuck.''
Reddington said police were working with the Department of Conservation to make sure it was safe for trampers to continue using the area.
• Fears for missing Southland tramper
• Clues found in search for missing tramper Darren Myers in the Tararua Ranges
• Body of missing tramper Darren Myers found in Tararua Range
• Rescuers searching for a missing tramper in Tararua Range have found footprints in the snow
Central Otago District operations manager Mike Tubbs said the Makarora River fluctuated ''wildly'' as a result of rainfall and snow melt and the nearest river level monitoring site showed the Wilkin River, which runs into the Makarora, went from 300cumecs (cubic metres per second) to 900cumecs and back to under 100cumecs in the space of four days last week."
The steep walk to Brewster Hut can take up to four hours one-way and is recommended for experienced trampers only.
Trampers cross the Haast River and are advised to exercise caution after heavy rainfall.
MetService meteorologist Tuporo Marsters said the heavy rain that overwhelmed Southland would have begun to recede by the weekend and it was unlikely the Haast River would have still been in flood.