Rafters catch chopper home

Two people were airlifted from the banks of the Shotover River on Monday night after a tourist on a commercial rafting trip decided to catch a ride home.

Emergency services were initially called about 7.45pm to fly the woman and her companion from Millionaire Beach, understood to be between the Shotover Canyon Swing operation and the confluence of Moke Creek and the Shotover River.

Lakes District Air Rescue Trust chairman Jules Tapper said the initial call requested a medevac, but Heliworks then took it over as a private job.

Heliworks pilot Richard Mills said the woman did not meet criteria for a medical evacuation, so Queenstown Rafting called the company directly to organise a private pick-up for her and her companion.

The rafting company is owned by Go Orange.

GO general manager Luke Taylor told the Otago Daily Times the woman was about three-quarters of the way through the rafting trip when the raft she was in flipped on one of the last rapids, ''which is a pretty common thing''.

''She was a bit uncomfortable after that [about continuing] and elected to pay for a helicopter home.''

Mr Taylor said due to static issues when the guides initially called to advise a helicopter pickup had been requested, staff heard ''helicopter'' and called emergency services. Reception improved a short time later and the pickup was clarified.

He said it was a ''pretty rare occurrence''.

''Everyone's pretty well briefed [before a trip] and everyone's fully aware sometimes you fall out, sometimes the raft flips ... it's part of the fun, to be honest.''

Mr Mills said he dropped the woman at Lakes District Hospital as a precaution.


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