A fire which raged on Cecil Peak on Sunday night, eventually
burning itself out on Monday, appeared to have been started
by an ''unsupervised gas cooker''.
Sergeant Blair Duffy, of Queenstown, said a group of four men
and two women contacted police on Monday afternoon and
visited the station that night.
The group, all either 28 or 29 years old and all from the
United Kingdom living and working in Queenstown, had visited
Cecil Peak on a borrowed boat late on Sunday afternoon.
''They have initially gone over to have a barbecue and a few
drinks [but] fairly early in the piece this has taken
Sgt Duffy said the unsupervised gas cooker appeared to have
started the fire, which quickly got out of control.
A 29-year-old man told police in a statement the group called
111 at the time, providing details of the fire and its
''Things were getting quite dangerous given they had a boat
with probably 150 litres of fuel on board [so they left the
On Sunday night, police spoke to two men seen speeding from
Cecil Peak who disembarked in Queenstown Bay.
However, they were not part of the group who contacted police
Sgt Duffy said the man claimed to have ''told someone at the
Queenstown wharf'' to get either the Queenstown Lakes
District Council harbour master or police to call them.
''They went home anticipating to receive a phone call or some
contact ... and then upon waking up the next day and reading
the paper and seeing there was media interest, that obviously
police were looking for who was involved ... they made
Two rural fire crews, supported by two helicopters, dampened
down hot spots on Monday morning after a helicopter
inspection of the fire and surrounding area on Sunday night
to ensure no-one was in the vicinity.
Senior communications adviser Michele Poole said the council
would consider the statement provided by police before making
any decisions on prosecution and/or recovery of costs.