Respect the river – know the risks
With summer here, we’re thinking about long days boating, fishing, or cooling off in New Zealand’s beautiful rivers and lakes.
It’s also time to remind ourselves and our friends and family of some of the simple rules to keep us river-safe. Sadly, more people drown in rivers than in any other aquatic environment in New Zealand. Too many lives have been lost.
Rivers are changeable and contain hidden dangers
- Don’t take anything for granted. The bank, riverbed and water flow might have changed, and there could be hidden dangers such as submerged objects.
- Keep away from dams and other structures – apart from the agreed sign-posted fishing spots. It is illegal to operate boats or swim within 200m of any hydro structure. There are strong currents and suction effects. Water levels and flows can change significantly throughout the day and massive flows may be released at any time.
- New Zealand’s rivers are powerful, and swimmers often overestimate their abilities. Even if the river looks slow moving and calm, the pressure of moving water is constant and can be powerful.
Never enter a river alone. If in doubt stay out. Tell someone when you are going and when you expect to return.