Thrill-seeker died on mountain adventure
'She wanted to do everything'KAY BLUNDELL
Tributes are pouring in for vivacious, thrill-seeking, highly respected New Zealand television director Caroline Johnstone, who plunged more than 150 metres to her death at Whakapapa skifield at the weekend.
The 44-year-old Te Horo woman's civil union partner, Chrissie Lahood, was on the mountain with her on Saturday when Johnstone went off to find her snowboard. It had slid away about 12.30pm.
Telling her partner of 11 years she would meet her at the car park, Lahood skied down and waited.
After about half an hour she saw a helicopter go up, went to the medical centre and heard the devastating news.
Johnstone fell 15m before tumbling a further 150m after straying beyond a marked trail in an area known as the Amphitheatre, which was signposted off.
Johnstone was stepmother to Lahood's son and daughter, both aged in their 20s.
Johnstone worked as a freelance television director, mainly for Top Shelf Prudctions.
Her partner described her as a surfer, scuba diver, "real keen snowboarder, total adventure-seeking thrill seeker, never-stopped-for-a-minute kind of person, if it was possible to be done she did it, she wanted to do everything, an extremist in a lot of ways".
Watching a video of extreme sports with her recently of people doing "insane" things, Lahood said.
"She wanted to do every one of those. She had the daredevil level of a teenage boy. She was insanely vivacious and completely irreverent."
Top Shelf producer Debra Kelleher said her friends and colleagues were devastated.
"It is a huge shock. She was extremely current in her understanding of the industry, someone always willing to take others under her wing with great enthusiasm, positivity, was extremely funny, loud, opinionated and headstrong but also incredibly loving and caring.
"She was wonderful to be around, had huge energy and commitment to whatever she engaged in. She was an amazing woman and had an incredible joy for life and living which makes her untimely death even more tragic.
"And she was a bloody amazing director," Kelleher said.
Last week Johnstone was in the middle of post-production on two corporate projects and pre production on a documentary.
She had just completed a pilot for the series The Wild Food Challenge.
Johnstone first worked with Top Shelf as a director on Series 1 of The Inspectors in 2005 and on the series Nailed Sorted Exposed.
Since then she has directed many projects for Top Shelf including Change for the Better, The Incredible Years 1 & 2, Victim Information, and various short documentary projects for the Ministry of Justice.
She was also a field director on Brunch, Six Moments of History and recently The Drowsy Driving DVD.
She also directed the self-funded documentary, The Drag Kings.
Johnstone's sister and father are flying out from England for her funeral service, which is being held at Te Horo on Friday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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