The rescue of two men stranded in the fast-flowing Kawarau
River yesterday was yet another "lesson for everyone" on the
waterways to wear a life jacket, Queenstown Lakes District
Harbour Master Marty Black says.
He reiterated the safety message after he plucked the men
from an isolated embankment at the end of Rafters Rd,
Gibbston, about 5pm.
Queenstown police, St John officers and the harbour master
responded to alerts from the public.
Constable Hugh O'Reilly, of Queenstown, said at the scene,
three men and a woman were on a boating trip with at least
two in kayaks and one on a paddle board.
They encountered difficulties in rapids and two men swam
ashore about 5km from the A.J.
Hackett Bungy bridge.
The pair of American visitors and their Wakatipu hosts last
night played down the incident.
One of the men, who declined to be named, said, "it wasn't a
big deal", and he did not feel he was in any danger.
Mr Black said the two were "pretty humble and grateful" to be
rescued, one at a time, on the back of his jet ski.
Those sailing without wearing life jackets were liable to an
instant fine, but the group volunteered at the scene to give
a "significant donation", which was the dollar equivalent of
the fines, to Wakatipu Search and Rescue, Mr Black said.
However, Mr Black and Const O'Reilly warned waterway users
not to underestimate the rivers and always wear life jackets.
"It's just common sense .. . these are people who should know
better," Mr Black said.