It was not her first visit to the waterfall in Australia, but it ended in tragedy as Ms Cheng Shi Min, 21, slipped and fell more than 20m onto the rocks below.
Ms Cheng, a Singaporean, suffered head and chest injuries and died yesterday morning, a day after her fall.
Ms Cheng, a student at Macquarie University in Sydney, had set off on Tuesday for a bushwalk outside the city with her father, boyfriend and a family friend. They chose a popular, well-marked track past Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park.
At about 1.30pm, according to her boyfriend Henry Yendle, Ms Cheng was leaning over the edge for a better look at the waterfall when she slipped over the side and plunged into the rocks below.
"I sort of just heard a scream and then a loud bang," he told Fairfax Media. "I rushed down, along with her father, as quickly as we could."
He found Ms Cheng lying face down in the freezing water and flipped her over. She was "murmuring", he said. He yelled for help to pull her out of the water.
"They (Ms Cheng's father and other hikers) rushed up and we tried for maybe 20 minutes to pull her out of the water," he said.
Rescue crews who arrived at about 2pm stabilised her condition and put her in a coma.
When strong winds prevented a rescue helicopter from winching Ms Cheng up, the rescue crews put her on a stretcher and left the area on foot. It was past 8pm by the time she was taken to Sydney's Westmead Hospital.
Ms Cheng appeared to have been passionate about the famous walks through the bushland, canyons and waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. She had gone on a solo hike in the area, including the waterfall, in January last year and posted her experience on her Facebook page.
She is said to have been due to graduate later this year. "We are saddened by the news of her death and have extended our condolences and support to her family," a Macquarie University spokesman said in a statement.