Rangitikei River Drownings


This afternoon there was was another tragic drowning in a NZ rafting river – the Rangitikei River near Bulls which has stretches of grade 4 and 5 white water. Police were said to be in attendance and visibly upset people were being comforted.

In October 2007 trainee guide Tor Prestmo, 24, from Norway, drowned when he was swept under water after a collision between two rafts on a grade five rapid on the same river. River Valley Ventures ltd. was later convicted for health and safety breaches. See post Another Adventure Tourism Death Results in Prosecution – Tor Prestmo.

A year earlier a school student from Newcastle, Australia was trapped and nearly drowned just 15cm below the surface of this river whilst on a rafting expedition with River Valley Ventures. Source.
There were 30 students and 5 adults in the rafting the group.

The NZ Maritime Safety Authority’s report into the student’s entrapment stated:

“Guides will in the future carry fold up snorkels as part of their rescue
kit. The maximum effective length of a pipe/hose for breathing underwater is approximately 18cm. If using a hose from a raft pump, the hose can be cut to the right length.”

Full report may be found here

Another fatality on the Rangitikei River occurred in October 2005 when Andy Warren, a member of a group of senior army personnel on a leadership course, drowned when he was thrown from the raft he was in (River Valley Ventures owned and operated the raft) Full report of the drowning here

Whilst it is too soon to say if this latest fatality is as a result of adventure tourism it does come at a time when the review of the Adventure Industry (initiated following a consistent and very public pressure by Emily Jordan’s father Chris) has been put on the back burner because of a lack of ‘buy-in’ by industry operators and is already 2 months behind schedule.

Some countries have seen fit to advise their citizens of the dangers they may face in New Zealand. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers the following guidance: link

Local Travel

“There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors; these also include extreme sporting accidents. If you intend to participate in extreme sports you should check that the company is well established in the industry and your insurance covers you. If you intend visiting remote areas, you should check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. You should ensure that you register your details with a Visitor Information Centre or family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas and you should keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.”
Today’s posts – click here

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