Influx of lockdown-flouting boaties lead to altercations with locals

Civil Defence says there was an influx of bach owners into the Lake Brunner area prior to the lockdown last week, many of them towing boats.

All boat ramps around the lake including at Moana, Iveagh Bay and Mitchells were closed on Monday by the Grey District Council in response to numerous complaints about people in holiday mode flouting the lockdown.

One Christchurch bach owner yesterday morning said it was unfair for them or boaties to be singled out. He had a clear view of the lake, "and I can genuinely say I haven't seen one boat".

However, West Coast Civil Defence controller John Canning said they had thoroughly checked one incident at the weekend, which prompted his directive to block off the boat ramps.

"We had a lot of people ringing and reports that was happening ... there was a lot more than one," Mr Canning said.

"There were altercations with locals, so rather than people gathering and having altercations, we closed it."

Mr Canning said he had no problems with bach owners from away seeing out the lockdown there, but the country was in a lockdown and people needed to calm down.

"They have been pretty vocal on their 'right' to go boating ... the bottom line is they don't have a right to go boating," he said.

A boat owner could have justified using their boat as a container for the gear they needed to bring with them for their stay, but they could not take their boat on to the water now.

Grey District Council district assets and engineering manager Mel Sutherland said his staff had closed all boat ramps. A club boat ramp at Moana not under council jurisdiction had also been closed.

The boat ramp below the Cobden Bridge was closed by default when council last week blocked access to freedom campers using that area.

Mr Sutherland said the directive to block off the ramps was to "discourage people from congregating" and to stop the emergency services being called out unnecessarily.

Brendon McMahon






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