Two More Adventure Tourism Deaths in NZ – Overseas Tourists Die in Kayaking Expedition on Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Google Earth image of “dangerous” Lake Tekapo , taken in Oct 2013

We’re deeply saddened to hear there’s been another adventure tourism tragedy in New Zealand, this time on Lake Tekapo involving overseas tourists. One of the deceased men is believed to be a British tourist, according to the UK’s Daily Express.

The Foreign Office (FCO) confirmed that one of them is a British national.  In a statement the FCO said it was supporting the man’s family and was in contact with New Zealand authorities.

Both were students at Melbourne’s Monash University.

According to a report in

Two tourists are dead and nine others have been rescued after the group was caught off guard by a weather change while kayaking at Lake Tekapo. A St John spokesman said four ambulances were sent to the scene, in South Canterbury, after the incident was reported about 4.30pm. Patients will be transferred to Timaru Hospital.

All of the rescued tourists were said to be suffering from hypothermia, three of them were admitted to Timaru Hospital. The water temperature of the glacial out-wash lake at this time of year is about as cold as the inside of an average refrigerator.

Too choppy for kayaking

A Lake Tekapo resort manager, Wayne Hardaker,  told TVNZ he’d advised a guest the lake was too choppy for kayaking about an hour before the tragedy occurred. Locals say kayaking trips don’t usually happen on the glacial lake until summer

“We had a guest ask about kayaking and I just said ‘the lake’s too choppy’,” Mr Hardaker told ONE News.He said it would only be an hour or so later that this tragedy happened. The lake was like a mirror yesterday morning, then the wind got up and there were white caps in the afternoon when the group got into trouble, Mr Hardaker said.

Local residents say kayaking trips don’t usually happen on the glacial lake until summer…

One News named the company the kayakers were on the lake with as AquaNorts.

On its website, AquaNorts says it does not operate on “severe windy and rainy days”. It says: “If the status is closed due to wind please understand that it is for safety reasons as the wind is a lot stronger on the lake and the waves the wind create can be deceiving when viewing from the beach. Please understand our decision. Thank you.”

Stuff reported two of the eleven people in the group had died and all had been wearing life jackets.

11 peopleAccording to a NZ Herald report the group had been in the water for around an hour before emergency services were alerted by a local man

who had hired out the boats made the call after seeing the change in weather. “He tried to go out in the boat, but the waves were too high.”

Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin wouldn’t confirm if the two deaths were due to hypothermia but says all members of the group had been wearing life jackets at the time.

.Gaskin said the weather was calm when the group set out but the group was battered by 40 k/hr NW winds which swamped the boats, tipping the occupants into 3 degree Celsius water. He added that it wasn’t unheard of for weather conditions to change so quickly on Lake Tekapo, saying

Lake Tekapo is very dangerous

Death canoe

There are Lake Tekapo “death canoe” dating back to the 1970s: visitors at the youth hostel taking canoes out on the lake never to be seen again. But the worst tragedy was when The worst tragedy was when

“Mackenzie farmer Tom Howes, his nephew 17-year-old Paul Ford, his 15-year-old niece Paul’s sister Judith, and family friends, the primary school-aged Arnst sisters from Pleasant Point, were in an aluminium dingy when a rogue wave caught it around 6pm.

The following morning, Judith, who had clung to the hull all night, made it to the lake’s northern shore. Her uncle and the rest of the party were never found.”

source: Why Tekapo keeps it dead

Current British FCO advice for New Zealanda

Local travel

There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors, including during extreme sports activities. If you are taking part in extreme sports check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you are visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Make sure you register your details with a visitor information centre or leave details with family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts. source

Current Australian Government travel advice for New Zealand

Australian travel advice about NZ

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2 thoughts on “Two More Adventure Tourism Deaths in NZ – Overseas Tourists Die in Kayaking Expedition on Lake Tekapo

  1. Totally preventable.
    Captains decision making abilities were impaired, probably by drinking the night before. Sea was calm the day before, but winds really got up on the day of the tragedy, and the swell really jumped in size too.
    Condolences to all the families of the people who perished.

    The captain of the vessel should never have been in those waters, especially at that time. The Kaipara entrance has claimed more maritime accident lives than any other area in NZ.

  2. File under tourism deaths:–multiple-people-in-the-water
    5 dead, 3 unaccounted for after boat capsizes in Kaipara Harbour
    Last updated 23:13, November 26 2016
    The Francie, a charter fishing boat, has been reported as missing.
    The Francie, a charter fishing boat, has been reported as missing.

    Eight people on board a boat that capsized in Kaipara Harbour are dead or missing, police said on Saturday night.

    A total of 11 people were on board the charter fishing boat The Francie when it overturned near Kaipara Harbour’s North Head about 3.30pm.

    Three people were pulled alive from the water, along with five bodies. Three people remain missing.

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