Beacon raises alarm over rafting death

The Caples River, near Lake Wakatipu. PHOTO: ALEKSANDR CHEIFETZ
The Caples River, near Lake Wakatipu. PHOTO: ALEKSANDR CHEIFETZ
The friends of a Queenstown man who died in a rafting incident on the Caples River on Monday raised the alarm with a personal locator beacon.

In a statement yesterday, police said Stephen Andrew Bowler (30) died about 1pm while on the river with a group of people in inflatable pack rafts.

A Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman said it was alerted to the incident by the activation of the beacon at 1.34pm.

The Queenstown rescue helicopter flew to the site to find that Mr Bowler was ‘‘unfortunately deceased’’.

A police spokeswoman said the rafting was not a commercial operation, and Mr Bowler was with a group of friends, but could not provide any more details of the incident because police were investigating on behalf of the coroner.

The Caples River merges with the Greenstone River about 3km upstream from Lake Wakatipu, on the lake’s western side, opposite Pigeon and Pig Islands.

Ngai Tahu has put a rahui in place for the Caples River as a mark of respect.

The rahui, a temporary restriction on access to or use of the area, will remain in place until November 30.

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