Kayaker pinned underwater

Contact Energy reduced the Hawea River's flow this week to allow the removal of a rogue willow tree which left a kayaker pinned underwater last Friday.

The paddler was swept under the willow, which had been undermined and had slipped into the popular river about 4.7km downstream of the Camphill Road bridge between Wanaka and Lake Hawea.

Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black said one member of a kayaking group tipped out in a rapid and was swept into the tree. He managed to grab a branch but was dragged by the water beneath the tree and struggled for a ''significant amount of time''.

He was rescued by another person who had been accompanying the kayakers in a raft.

This week, Contact Energy reduced the Hawea River's flow from 50-60cumecs to about 10cumecs as it looked for a way to remove the problem willow.

''Thanks to Contact Energy, which reduced the river flow and also agreed to underwrite the cost of the operation, two trees were removed from the river [on Tuesday night],'' Mr Black said last night.