Boat users’ behaviour pleasing

About 20 boats from the Otago Branch of Jet Boating New Zealand, pictured on the Matukituki River...
About 20 boats from the Otago Branch of Jet Boating New Zealand, pictured on the Matukituki River at the head of Lake Wanaka earlier this month. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Harbourmasters around Otago say they are pleased to report the vast majority of water users have stayed safe out on the water this summer.

There were few major incidents over the busy Christmas and New Year period, despite large numbers of people and vessels in the water around the region.

"Most people are behaving themselves, which is really good, it’s really positive," Otago Regional Council harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook said.

"There’s still some work to do, some educational stuff to do from my point of view, but pretty pleased thus far and long may it continue."

A combination of factors had led to a quiet summer so far for Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black.

Poor weather had led to the lakes being quieter, while those who did take to the water were behaving well, he said.

"It’s quite quiet compared to other years. Both the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown are busy, and Glendhu Bay is busy, but it’s certainly not that busy in Queenstown [on Lake Wakatipu] that’s for sure.

"The weather has curtailed a lot of boating activities and I don’t think we’ve had anywhere near such big days this year [compared to last year]."

The new rules prohibiting motored craft from the upper stretches of the Clutha River were working well, he said.

"It’s probably been the best year we’ve had in some time. We’ve had hardly had any callouts compared to other years."

Downstream at Lake Dunstan, education officer Shayne Hitchcock said he was pleased to see new boat owners looking to learn the boating rules before taking to the water.

"I’ve received a number of calls from people wanting to learn the rules, which has been great and I’d encourage that as much as possible.

"If you’re not sure what to do, give us a ring, go on the internet or download the Maritime New Zealand boating maps."

Numbers enjoying the Waitaki Lakes were booming, Waitaki District Council harbour operator Kevin Murdoch said.

He had been in the area for most of the holiday period and said it was as busy as he had ever seen at some places such as Sailors Cutting.

While there had been a couple of incidents on the lakes, Mr Murdoch was pleased he had not encountered anything major.

However, there was still room for some to improve when on the water, he said.

"I think the problem is people not knowing the rules. At Sailors Cutting around 40% of people go in and out of the harbour the wrong way. It’s just a lack of knowledge, more than anything."

More of the same was the message given by all four men.

Environment Southland harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver was unavailable for comment yesterday as he was on annual leave, a communications spokesman said.

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