Wānaka Sun       

Rise in boat sales and full camping grounds mean busy lakes

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 24 Dec, 2020 | By Jo Galer newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

While it is yet unknown how many recreational users will head to our lakes and waterways this holiday season, the Queenstown Lakes District Council is able to make predictions based on a rise in boat sales and bookings for camp grounds. So they are preparing for a busy time on the water!

Queenstown Lakes District Council Harbour Master Marty Black said reports from the marine industry indicated a significant increase in the numbers of new craft being sold, particularly jet skis and mini jet-boats.

“And given the borders are closed we know there will almost certainly be more kiwis visiting key areas like Wakitipu, Wānaka and Hawea as they can't travel overseas.”

While numbers of boaties using Wānaka and Hawea are still hard to gauge at this stage, with popular boating areas such as Glendhu already booked out with close to 2000 campers, a busy season looked likely.

“It also depends a lot on the weather as happened last year, when it was cold until around 18 January then summer came and it was busy in all areas with folk just wanting to be out on the waterways.”

On good boating days, staff on jet skis will patrol traditionally busy areas like Roys Bay, Glendhu Bay, Dublin Bay and Stevenson's Arm. Assistant Harbour Master Jeff Donaldson is basing himself and patrol jet-ski complete with flashing lights at Glendhu camping during the holiday period. 

“I'll work that area, mostly educating people about safe boating behaviour and assisting people that need help. We just want to ensure people respect each other.”

Rules he and other staff will ensure are followed include compulsory wearing of life-jackets; ensuring watercraft drivers are at least 15 years of age; keeping speed to required limits such as 5 kms near the shoreline; sticking to dedicated ski lanes away from swimmers (dedicated lanes extend up to 200 metres out from shore); and ensuring boats and jet-skis remain at least 50 metres apart (and at least 50 metres away from swimmers) while using lakes and waterways at all times. 

Swimmers and boaties are also advised that temperatures within the lakes change depending on water depth. Black said all our rivers and lakes are cold; between around 10 to 12 degrees winter to summer.

“Even a fit person may not last very long before hypothermia sets in that is why it is so important Life Jackets are worn. Add alcohol and that obviously increases the risk of hypothermia,” he said.   

Like last year, yellow buoys will delineate swimming areas at popular swimming spots such as Eely Point, and no motorised boats will be permitted on the Clutha River between the Outlet and the Albert Town bridge. Only people on rafts and lilos are able to use this part of the river.

The QLDC has worked with Maritime New Zealand this year on the ongoing “No Excuses” programme, and has started a new awareness initiative called the “No Plan Good Plan” campaign – advocating greater preparation and awareness of conditions before heading for the waterways.

https://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/recreational/safety-campaigns/default.asp.

Read edition 1006 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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