Deaths of two trampers in South Island days after severe weather prompts warning about swollen rivers

The death of two trampers in Otago days after a storm wreaked havoc on the region has prompted warnings from experts about the dangerous conditions of rivers following the wild weather.

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Police confirmed the pair – a man and a woman – were found in the Makarora River, near Wanaka. Source: 1 NEWS

Police believe the duo – a man and a woman – whose bodies were found earlier this week were hiking the Gillespie Pass circuit which had swollen rivers such as Makarora River in its vicinity.

The deaths have prompted tramping experts such as Federated Mountain Club’s David Barnes to remind people of the dangers they could encounter while hiking near rivers after heavy rainfall.

“Rivers always need to be treated very seriously,” Mr Barnes said.

“River conditions can change very quickly, they can come quickly, they can come down just as quickly.

“Often waiting is a really good option.”

It's been revealed this week's deluge has damaged 75 tracks in Fiordland, including the famous Routeburn, and cut road access to Milford.

Photos taken this weekend also showed a slip over the Howden Hut and significant damage to bridges and other buildings.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says they have no idea what the full cost of repairs will be yet.

“DOC staff are out doing assessments on the ground with geo-tech and engineering support,” Ms Sage said.

“It will be a while before those full costs are in.”

DOC has no idea how long repairs will take, telling 1 NEWS, “we are motivated to get tracks open as quickly as we can, but our priority is ensuring those tracks are safe first and foremost”.