Deidre Lusby's holiday changed suddenly at 12.02am on Monday morning as she camped with 13 others.
"We had camped beside the river and were woken by tremendous noise, shuddering - the earthquake," she told Morning Report.
The group's guides decided move them along the river bed slightly and they bedded down on a tarpaulin in the open. But there wasn't much sleep to be had.
"Each aftershock set off another thunderous amount of rocks coming down into the river on the other side from where we were."
"It's the unknown of earthquakes that's the frightening part," she said.
The group woke to find they had had a lucky escape.
"There were some quite large rocks down there [beside where we were sleeping] but we'd got through that night."
They then moved a few hours down the river and camped at the isolated high country property Muzzle Station and, as the farmers had TV and internet access, they discovered the river had dammed.
The group were forced to spend another night in tents, buffeted by rain and wind, before being choppered out to Clarence yesterday and then driving to Blenheim.
Ms Lusby said she has grand plans for when she gets home to Nelson: "I think I'll have a long bath."