Hopkins drowned when he was thrown out of an inflatable raft on the Waiohine River in Tararua National Park, according to Wellington Police. His wife, Nicci Hopkins, was also tipped into the fast-flowing water but survived.
Hopkins won Academy Awards for sound editing in 2002 for “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and in 2005 for “King Kong.” Both awards were shared with Ethan Van der Ryn.
Also for director Peter Jackson, Hopkins worked on “Heavenly Creatures” and “The Frighteners.”
In 2007 he and Van der Ryn were Oscar nommed for “Transformers.”
Hopkins’ recent credits included “Public Enemies,” “Dreamgirls” and “Valkyrie.”
Mark Ordesky, exec producer on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, wrote on Twitter: “Shocked and saddened by the loss of Mike Hopkins, Oscar-winning #LOTR sound editor. Brilliant, humble #NZ artist. RIP.”