Nearly 20 people have drowned in Otago and Southland this
year - six more than last year.
The most recent was a kayaker on Lake Te Anau but it was
Foveaux Strait that claimed the most lives this year with 10
people dying in the southern waterway.
Four drowned in Otago - two in the Clutha River, one in the
Poolburn Dam and one in the Ahuriri Valley - down from seven
In Southland, there had been 15 drownings including two each
in Milford and Doubtful Sounds, up from six the year before.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said
86 people had drowned so far this year.
''New Zealand has one of the worst drowning tolls in the
developed world. This is a nationwide problem everyone needs
to play a part in solving.''
He urged everyone to know their limits, and keep an eye on
their friends and family in and around the water this holiday
On average, 10 people drowned in New Zealand waters each
official Christmas holiday period - from 4pm Christmas Eve
until 6am on January 3, he said.
Last year, nine people lost their lives in the water during
People traditionally flocked to the country's lakes, rivers
and beaches so it was a ''high risk'' time, he said.
''If everyone makes safety a priority and remembers the
basics - wear life jackets, keep kids within arm's reach,
know your limits and don't drink alcohol when taking part in
a water-based activity - then a zero toll is achievable.''
Fishermen were over-represented in 2011's Christmas toll with
four men drowning while fishing. People needed to remember to
take a mate, wear a life jacket and check the marine
Police have released the name of a man who drowned at a
popular Coromandel beach on Monday. Jason Anthony Johns (43)
went into the water at Whitiora Beach about 60m north of the
patrolled swimming area and immediately got into difficulty
in the 2.5m swell. His brother witnessed the tragedy.
The pair had been staying with friends in Waihi for Christmas
when they decided to visit the tiny beach settlement between
Waihi and Whangamata, where they lived as children in the
1980s. - Additional reporting APNZ