Four swimmers found safe on Lake Rotorua after overdue outing

Rotorua, 28 December 2023 - A day out on Lake Rotorua turned into a nerve-wracking situation when four people didn't return as expected on the evening of December 27th, 2023. They were last seen swimming, possibly headed towards Mokoia Island, about 3.2 kilometres from where they started.

Coastguard Rotorua Lakes sprang into action after getting the call at 1825. In less than half an hour, two rescue vessels, ‘Lakes Rescue’ and ‘Rotorua Rescue’, were out on the water, with a full crew and ready to go.

At 1852, volunteers onboard Lakes Rescue spotted two individuals about 0.3 nautical miles (around 500m) offshore. They were brought onboard and assessed for any injuries before returning to Hannahs Bay.

Lakes Rescue then searched the shoreline while Rotorua Rescue combed between Hannahs Bay and Mokoia Island for the remaining two missing individuals. Lakes Rescue then headed for Mokoia Island, checking it from the Southwest side to the East. At 1944 Coastguard located them on the island, having floated there on a small inflatable mattress.

It was an emotional reunion at Hannahs Bay when the two groups were reconnected.

Coastguard Rotorua Lakes Instructor and Master onboard Rotorua Rescue Jonathan Findon said, “We’ve been training extensively in the lead up to summer. Many of our training scenarios include situations similar to this operation, which allowed the crews to quickly put training into action. Our crew came away from their evening with families to selflessly help people in need, and ended up with a fantastic result. I’m so proud of everyone’s efforts”.


Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity