Three incidents on the upper Clutha River in the past three
days which have prompted a warning to water users to ''stay
off'' the waterways while they are at high flows.
Around noon yesterday an alarm was raised that a 53-year-old
Luggate woman and her 8-year-old grandson, who had entered
the Hawea River below the Camp Hill Bridge on a blow-up
service tender, had not arrived at their pre-arranged
destination downstream. It was later discovered their oar was
damaged so they left the river early, but could not contact
with the person waiting for them.
The decision to negotiate the river at such a high flow was a
''bad call'', police search and rescue co-ordinator Senior
Constable Mike Johnston said.
''She totally underestimated the risks that the river
presented,'' he said.
''From our point of view, it was a really risky situation to
take an 8-year-old into.''
Queenstown Lakes district harbourmaster Marty Black agreed it
was ''probably not the wisest of calls'' when the river was
flowing at 126.8cumecs, but acknowledged the woman was highly
experienced with outdoor activities and on local rivers,
which is why she immediately left the water when the oar
''She was very much aware of the dangers of entrapments in
trees,'' Mr Black said.
On Saturday evening two kayakers on the Clutha River near
Wanaka required help to get to shore after their craft
overturned, and on Sunday, a group of young people floating
down the Clutha near Albert Town also had to be helped to
shore after getting into difficulty. Flows of up to 550cumecs
have been reported in the Clutha River in the past few days.
The message to take from the three incidents was simple, Mr
''The rivers at the moment are running high, stay off ... the
warnings are there, it's dangerous stuff.''
Deputy harbour master Dave Black said water safety in
Queenstown has improved over the past two weeks with most
boat users carrying observers and water users wearing life
Mr Black said the lake over the weekend was busy as expected
at this time of year and they had no incidents to cause
However, on Saturday night a police search was launched after
three paddleboarders were reported missing near Glenorchy. A
group of five had launched from Glenorchy to go to Kinloch
when three were separated by the windy conditions and got
Upon making it to Kinloch, two of the paddleboarders raised
the alarm for a search by police and the coastguard. The
three missing boarders were found at the Glenorchy hotel
Mr Black said this highlighted the importance of wearing life
jackets, even when relatively close to shore.
A pair of inflatable paddleboards were reported stolen on
Saturday at 8.30pm, after two young men failed to return the
items to the rental shop on the lakefront. A search of Lake
Wakatipu made the harbourmaster's office confident they were
not in the water, Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of
Queenstown, said yesterday.
Police were told the paddleboards had been recovered on
Sunday at noon. The customers had forgotten to return them,
Snr Const Blackford said.