Incident 19741022

Accident/Incident Database | List all by Date | List all by River | Statistics | About | Report an Incident

19741022?, 22 October 1974 11:00?, Fatal accident? / Swim?
Victim?: AUS, 22, Male
Location?: Canterbury/Lake Tekapo?

Class?: 0
Flow?: Unknown, "Medium"
Boat Type?: Kayak-Touring/Fibreglass kayak
Trip Type?: Private


Around 12:30pm, a tourist borrowed an 8-foot fibreglass canoe, intending to paddle Lake Tekapo to Motuariki Island. Conditions at departure were fine and calm. The paddler was alone, lightly-clad (in jeans, flannel shirt, jandals and a plastic parka) and without a lifejacket. From 1:15pm the wind came up, with gusts of 28kmh to 4pm, 37kmh after 4pm and 56kmh at 7pm. The lake became rough.

A search was commenced that night, and again the next morning. The kayak was recovered from the western shore, along with socks, jandals and a paddle. Despite additional searching, no body was ever recovered.

Lake Tekapo is up to 130m deep and filled with cold, glacial water at approximately 7C. The victim had discussed paddling the kayak with another tourist in the Youth Hostel and admitted to having never paddled before.


This is a clear case of a person's enthusiasm overwhelming their better judgement, and where inexperience led to a fatal error of judgement.

The NZRCA recommends that kayakers don't paddle alone.

Let someone know what you are planning and when you are expected to return (Recommendation 1.4)

Wear an approved buoyancy aid (Recommendation 1.5).

Wear and/or carry sufficient warm protective clothing for the trip (Recommendation 1.7).

Think carefully about the suitability of your boat for the particular river (or lake) conditions (Recommendation 1.24).

Depositions by Samuel Harris and Elizabeth Matheson, 18 November 1973.

Reported by?: Jonathan Hunt
Created: 2004-05-09, changed: 2004-05-09.