Six people pulled from the water by Coastguard Wanganui Volunteers

27 May 2020

Six people are now safely back on land after their Waka Ama was swamped by a wave on the Whanganui River bar this evening.

At 17.37 hours today, Coastguard Wanganui volunteers received an emergency call out after police were notified that six people were in the water.

The volunteers quickly assembled at their unit base and with five volunteers on board Wanganui Rescue, were on the scene within 15 minutes of the call being made.

The six paddlers were coming back over the bar when they were swamped by a wave from behind, causing all six people to end up in the water, nearly 500 metres from shore, as the Waka quickly became submerged.

“It was already dark when our pagers went off, so we knew we had to get out there quickly,” said Coastguard Wanganui President, Garry Hawkins.

Fortunately, despite the outgoing tide, the group were able to stay together by holding onto the submerged Waka.

“Three of the paddlers were wearing headlamps so our crew could see where they were in the water, on arrival they quickly got to work pulling everyone on board Wanganui Rescue and checking everyone was ok."

“Two of the paddlers were showing signs of hyperthermia, I’d say they’d been in the water for around 30 minutes when we got to them. The water is about 14 degrees at the moment so they were lucky they weren’t in there for any longer,” said Mr Hawkins.

Upon arrival back at land, all six paddlers were taken to hospital and have since been discharged.

“We could have all been facing a very different outcome,” says Mr Hawkins.

“Thankfully we’re not and six people are safe and home with their families tonight.”


For more information contact:
Julia James
Coastguard New Zealand Communications Manager
[email protected]
Mobile: 021 435 804


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