An Australian tourist who failed to let family members know
where he was heading in a boat sparked a full-scale search
operation - with a helicopter search by police eventually
locating him sunbathing at a beach.
Senior Sergeant Dave Litton said the man was one of five
water rescues emergency services attended in the Waikato area
The Australian was reported missing in a boat off Colville
after being gone for about three hours.
"This man left Otautu Wharf in a 7ft aluminium dingy that was
equipped with oars but no motor about 11.40am. At the time
there was a 20-knot [37 km/h] northwesterly wind and a
one-metre northerly swell," Mr Litton said.
"Though wearing a life jacket the man had not told anyone
where he was going or when he would return and he had no
After his family raised the alarm, the coastguard launched a
fixed wing aircraft from Auckland and the police eagle
helicopter began an aerial search, Mr Litton said.
Two coastguard vessels were also put on standby, he said.
When the man was discovered sunbathing on a beach at Tiriteka
Point, north of Otautu Wharf, by the helicopter, he told the
crew he was waiting for the tide to rise before returning.
"If this man had only told other people where he was going
and had a cellphone with him the valuable time and resources
deployed in the search for him would not have been wasted,"
Mr Litton said.
In another rescue, firefighters were asked to bring a
chainsaw after a man got his leg trapped in his homemade
wooden boat in Tairua Harbour.
Further south, a man at Raglan's ocean beach was pulled out
of the surf by an overseas tourist.
The man, who was semi-conscious when emergency services
arrived at the beach, had become caught in a rip after
rescuing his son and another child.
He was flown to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition.
"This incident highlights the importance of swimming between
the flags and the excellent work done by the overseas
visitor," Mr Litton said.
In another incident at Pauanui, four people - all in life
jackets - were forced to abandon their boat after their
engine lost power. The boat also caught fire and began taking
The fifth water rescue was at the Manu Bay boat ramp in
Raglan after a dinghy capsized in rough conditions.
All three people, who were wearing lifejackets, were thrown
overboard. They made it to shore safely and were treated for
cuts and bruises, Mr Litton said.
* Swim at beaches patrolled by life guards and swim between
* When boating, ensure your boat is equipped for the
conditions and everyone on board is wearing a life jacket
* Carry at least two forms of communication, including a
cellphone, a hand held VHF radio on channel 16 or distress
beacons. PLBs - personal locator beacons - or EPIRBs -
emergency position-indicating radio beacons - are useful.
* Tell people when and where you are going, when you should
be returning and when the alarm should be raised should you
- Teuila Fuatai of APNZ