A helicopter lowers a basket and a rescuer into Lake
Wakatipu during a rescue demonstration marking the official
launch of Coastguard Queenstown in March. Photo by Tracey
A few eyebrows were raised last year when it was
announced Lake Wakatipu would be patrolled by a Coastguard
It is one of only a few lakes in New Zealand to have a
The latest figures released from Coastguard New Zealand show
that in four months, Coastguard Queenstown was involved in
about the average number of calls for assistance for other
South Island units in that time span.
From March to June 30, the Lake Wakatipu-based unit responded
to four calls for assistance, acted on two police callouts,
and assisted eight people.
Coastguard Southern Region regional manager Cheryl Moffat
said on average, from March to June 30, Coastguard units were
called out 18 times per unit by the public, nine times by
police, and assisted 37 people per unit.
"Extrapolating out the four-month workload for the Queenstown
Coastguard unit over 12 months shows they are close to the
average workload, especially given the much higher workload
of areas like Christchurch where the Coastguard unit has by
far the highest number of search-and-rescue missions in the
region - 161 calls, 76 Police SAR incidents, and 228 people
"Looking at the time-frame that Queenstown Coastguard has
been operating and the number of calls for assistance they
have had over the four months since 'Queenstown Airport
Rescue' went into service, we feel that the number of lives
saved has more than justified the investment of time and
support from both the local community and Coastguard New
Zealand in getting the local unit operational," Ms Moffat
Coastguard Queenstown president Jay Berriman said six
skippers had now completed the Search and Rescue training
modules, and other professional volunteers were "well on the
way" to completing the Coastguard certificate of competency.
"They've put 684 volunteer hours into training, and in total,
1294 hours in search and rescue, training and running the
unit. That's an average of 72 hours per crew member.
"Queenstown Coastguard currently has 18 professional
volunteers and would welcome new members."
Mr Berriman said it had been a busy time since setting up the
Queenstown unit in January, working with police, Search and
Rescue, the New Zealand Fire Service, St John and the
Queenstown Airport Corporation.
"Our initial requirement for operational funding has been met
thanks to the generous support of Queenstown Airport
Corporation, our principle sponsor. This enables us, among
other things, to fuel our CRV [Coastguard Rescue Vessel] for
training and search-and-rescue operations.
"Queenstown Coastguard could not operate without the
continued, generous support of New Zealanders. Support to
purchase equipment for the vessel and personal protective
equipment for our professional volunteers is vital and much