Lake Rotorua's kayaking hazards highlighted by incidents

Following numerous kayaking incidents, including two deaths over the past year, Coastguard Rotorua Lakes is calling on those planning to venture onto the lake to put safety first. 

In April alone, volunteers have responded to three incidents involving eight kayakers where those in difficulty weren't prepared or experienced enough for the conditions. 

Coastguard Rotorua Lakes President Jeremy Doorman: "We train for this scenario a lot, searching for missing kayakers somewhere on the lake with limited information on their whereabouts, because sadly it happens all too often.” 

"Lake Rotorua's beauty can be deceiving. There is a prevailing westerly wind which can seem calm from shore, as the lake is partially sheltered by the hills on the western side. Once you paddle outside of that shelter, the wind picks up and it becomes difficult to paddle back to shore." 

“It’s also important to point out that access to Mokoia Island is restricted to permitted operators only so there is no point attempting this trip – it’s also significantly further from shore than many people believe.” 

Coastguard Rotorua Lakes' key kayaking safety tips:

  • Always wear a well-fitting and fit-for-purpose lifejacket as well as warm clothing 
  • Double check the weather conditions before heading out 
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back 
  • Carry two forms of water-proof communications, including a charged mobile-phone 
  • Call 111 and ask for Police in the event of an emergency 

A number of those that Coastguard has rescued in recent months have been tourists to the Rotorua region - using kayaks provided by bach owners. As visitors are often unfamiliar with the landscape, returning kayakers and their equipment back home is proving difficult for volunteers. 

"We recommend adding addresses to kayaks so we can help get people and equipment back home safe and sound. We're also asking all bach owners to provide their guests with our tips to ensure they can enjoy Lake Rotorua safely and with confidence,” Jeremy said. 

For more information, contact:
Ben Parsons 
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor
[email protected]

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