Lucky escape for jetskier on Waikato River

Lucky. That’s how experienced jetskier and Coastguard member Joe describes himself after an accident on the Waikato River last month. Now, he's telling his story to help others keep themselves safe on the water. 

At around 12pm on February 18, Joe ventured onto the river at Hoods Landing with his 3m Honda Jet Ski 1200. As he waited for his trailer to be fixed nearby, he decided to explore the river and headed towards Port Waikato for a quiet fish. However, with the strong currents, changing tides and his unfamiliarity with the river, Joe decided to turn back towards Hoods Landing around 2pm. 

On his way back, Joe was unsure of the best route. As he knew of the potential shallow water in the middle of the channel, he opted for the forest side. Joe's fishfinder alarm soon rung out - 4m, 3m, 1m - and as he turned right, the jetski hit a sandbank, his chin and chest smashing against the handlebars as he flew over the top, landing on his side. Bruised and in shock, but otherwise uninjured, Joe knew he needed assistance to retrieve his stuck jetski. After attempts to free the jetski failed, Joe decided to call Coastguard. 

"I knew I was a Coastguard member, but because I hadn't broken anything and wasn't in serious danger, I didn't want to waste anyone's time unnecessarily," he said. 

"From the time I called, it was nothing but a great experience. The operations centre team were amazing and helped me set up a mobile locate so they knew exactly where I was." 

At around 3.30pm, volunteers from Coastguard Waiuku and Kariotahi Surf Life Saving Club were on their way to Joe. Three Coastguard volunteers hit the road for the short journey south to Hoods Landing where they launched Counties Power Rescue.

Lifeguards arrived on scene soon after, with an IRB and jetski to assess Joe, while Coastguard started to recover the jetski from the sandbank with some much-needed manpower. Joe then followed Counties Power Rescue back to his car and trailer at Hoods Landing. Joe was later checked out at A&E and fortunately only suffered minor bruising to his chest and back. 

"In some ways I'm glad it happened because it reminds you how dangerous jetskis can be - especially in tidal areas after weather events," Joe said. 

“I only use my jetski to fish – head out to my favourite spots and then head home. However, jetskis can be dangerous when things go wrong, especially with people going too fast in low-speed areas. I hope people can use my story to educate themselves on being safe next time they are out on the water.” 

Joe concluded by highlighting how valuable his Coastguard membership was. 

“I don’t understand why people wouldn’t be a Coastguard member. If you get into any strife on the water, you want that peace of mind that you’re going to get help to get home.” 

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