Seven charged after caught jet-boating

Charges have now been laid against the seven men who were found jet-boating on the Makarora River last Friday and police are warning people to stay close to home for exercise and recreation.

The jet-boaters — men aged between 22 and 30 — are due to appear in the Queenstown District Court on September 13, facing one charge each of failing to comply with the Covid-19 order restricting movement during Alert Level 4 lockdown.

They were from six different bubbles.

Police have declined to comment further now the matter is before the court.

Senior Sergeant John Fookes, Otago Lakes Central Area Prevention Manager, confirmed yesterday police in Wanaka had been putting notices on some vehicles in remote areas of the wider Upper Clutha region in an effort to deter people from undertaking potentially dangerous activities such as tramping or hunting.

The numbers of notices given out is not known.

Snr Sgt Fookes said there had been some problems with people travelling to areas outside of their neighbourhood to exercise or undertake recreational activity.

It was a repeat of behaviour seen during last year’s Level 4 restrictions, he said.

"We remind the public that these activities fall outside the permitted activities under the restrictions of Alert Level 4, and the potential for injury means emergency services are exposed to risk when they have to rescue people.

"This is really concerning to police and breaches the Alert Level 4 restrictions and we urge people to keep their exercise close to home," he said.

There were a small number of people flouting the rules. In general, police in Central Otago were encouraged by the behaviour of people during Alert Level 4, he said.

Up to 5pm on Sunday, Southern region police had laid three charges. Nine formal warnings had been given and 35 infringement notices issued.

The data could not be specifically broken down to Queenstown, Wanaka or Central Otago.

Police had a low tolerance for deliberate breaches of the rules and would move quickly to enforcement if required, Snr Sgt Fookes said.

There would be an education-first approach around wearing face coverings at essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies, but enforcement action would be taken where necessary.

Limits on recreation included but were not limited to activities such as surfing, snowboarding, tramping, fishing and whitebaiting, he said.

The police would be stopping vehicles to ensure people’s travel was for essential purposes only.


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