Kayaker fatality on the Whitcombe River, West Coast

Release date: 
Friday, March 4, 2016 - 00:00

Whitewater NZ has received the sad news of the drowning of kayaker Sean Curtis while he was descending the Whitcombe River near Hokitika, on Wednesday 2 March.

Safety Officer Shaun McCracken said, "The kayaking community is extremely saddened by the loss of Sean and we extend our condolences and support to his family, friends, and kayaking team. Our members describe Sean as a talented, committed and passionate kayaker. He paddled with vigour, and ensured others were having fun with him. Sean will be missed by many in the New Zealand and international kayaking communities."

The Collier's Gorge section of the Whitcombe River is a challenging class IV+ run with powerful hydraulics and significant drops. Any activity undertaken on moving water is inherently risky and good decisions must be taken to ensure the participants’ safety. This includes having the correct equipment, training, teamwork and having good information about the river and the conditions.

Shaun McCracken said, "It is our understanding that Sean and his team were well equipped with a high level of experience. Our thoughts are with the team Sean was kayaking with on Wednesday, and we thank them for the tireless rescue efforts they made."

Whitewater NZ provides information and training on river safety and rescue practices, including leadership and decision making. The www.rivers.org.nz website has information on known sections of rivers that are commonly kayaked and includes recent changes to these rivers and new hazards. Whitewater NZ is committed to the promotion of kayaking in a safe and responsible manner.

If you require more information please go to our website or contact the officer below.

Shaun McCracken
Safety Officer
+64 (27) 742 6693

About Whitewater NZ
Whitewater NZ works to protect and conserve rivers, improve opportunities for kayakers to enjoy our whitewater resources safely, and protect public access to rivers for recreational use. We are the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater resources throughout New Zealand. More information on: rivers.org.nz.