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.