The hire of rowboats for use on Lake Waikareiti in Te Urewera has been stopped following a Department of Conservation (DOC) review of a recent search and rescue operation involving the boats.
DOC Conservation Services Manager for Te Urewera Hemi Barsdell said the incident resulted in one adult and two young boys being airlifted from the lake shore after they were blown well off-course.
"They were wet and cold, but the outcome could have been much worse," he said.
The rescue operation highlighted the inherent risk of the boat hire and prompted the review and subsequent decision.
Lake Waikareiti is at 900m above sea level and subject to rapid changes in conditions consistent with an alpine environment. The area is also remote and at least an hour from the nearest help at Aniwaniwa, which is also an hour’s drive from Wairoa.
"With no cellphone coverage the opportunity to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency is further limited.
"While there have been no serious disasters on the lake so far, this recent incident could easily have been so. That is not a situation that anyone wants to be in."
Mr Barsdell acknowledged there would be disappointment at the decision to stop hiring the boats, however, it was considered the most sensible decision given the factors at play.
"We will continue to provide facilities so that visitors have the best possible experience of Te Urewera – and the best experience is a safe one."