Police warning after lake death

Police have warned that lake users need to take safety more seriously after a 22-year-old Italian died in Lake Te Anau over the weekend.

Constable James Ure, of Te Anau, said restaurant worker Luca Ruffato, who had been in Te Anau for only about three weeks, had likely died from hypothermia or drowning.

At 12.30am on Saturday Mr Ruffato's flatmates told police he was last seen at 2pm on Friday but had not returned.

A helicopter search initiated then failed to find him. Const Ure said a private search later on Saturday morning found Mr Ruffato's body on Brod Bay, near a ''1960s vintage'' canoe.

Senior Sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said the death was a reminder for people to check equipment for safety, let people know their intentions, check weather conditions and talk to people with local knowledge before heading out.

Mr Ruffato, who was wearing a life jacket, had been on his own and had not told anyone of his intended return time.

Snr Sgt Raynes said: ''There were 15 to 20-knot winds out there. He shouldn't have gone out in those conditions.''