The woman who drowned in a torrent on Mt Taranaki last week was a caring mother and careful tramper, says her teenage daughter who was with her when she died.

Diane May Campbell-Hunt, 56, a Dunedin ecologist and botanist, was swept away to her death while crossing the Kaupokonui Stream with her 17-year-old daughter Katherine last Tuesday.

When the pair set off on their tramp from Dawson Falls visitors’ centre to Lake Dive Hut last Monday, Department of Conservation (DOC) staff warned them of the risk from raging streams when there was heavy rain.

But DOC ranger Joy McLean-Apps said after the tragedy that a storm arrived 13 hours earlier than the forecast information given to Mrs Campbell-Hunt.

Katherine Campbell-Hunt, commenting publicly for the first time on the events that led to her mother’s death, said they began the tramp a day earlier than planned because of the forecast.

“If we had known what the weather would do overnight there is no question about it, we would not have tramped out,” Miss Campbell-Hunt said.

Though the weather was miserable, her mother had tramped in such conditions many times before.

“Retrospectively I think the real danger of the rain was how constant it was; conditions that aren’t alarming in their intensity can cause great havoc through remaining constant,” Miss Campbell-Hunt said.

When trying to cross the stream, they reached a large rock in the middle with water reaching upper-thigh level.

“Given my positioning in the stream and my concentration on keeping balance, I could not tell whether my mother was actually attempting to cross, or whether she lost her footing or balance and fell.

“It is possible that she was about to decide on walking back, we’ll never know. She would have been mindful that I was in a dangerous position, and it is possible that her judgment was momentarily compromised through wanting to give me space to lean on the rock.

“The bank on the other side was close, I’d estimate not much more than a metre away, but between her and I it was fast-flowing water that I personally doubt she would have attempted to cross.

“It was this current that took her away.”

Miss Campbell-Hunt said she was disappointed to hear suggestions her mother had been careless in carrying a pack that was too heavy.

“Though this was unwise, I need to remind people that if it weren’t for all the other circumstances and this tragedy had not occurred, this would have remained simply a kind motherly gesture to ensure that we had all the necessary gear, but I wasn’t carrying too heavy a pack.”

Miss Campbell-Hunt said she later found out that Ms McLean-Apps had been trying to call her mother’s cellphone to tell her the weather front had moved in earlier than expected.

“Unfortunately I don’t think Mum’s phone had coverage in the area, so we did not receive these calls. I’d also like to add that I am in total concurrence with all the re-iterated advice from DOC about river crossings.

“I understand the need to make an example of this horrific event for the safety of future trampers, but this is not to be done by representing my mother as careless.

“Anyone who knew her would tell you she was a very cautious, careful tramper and a loving mother who would not put any of her children in danger.”