Water Safety New Zealand is urging extreme caution around New Zealand rivers as torrential rain across the country causes a surge in river levels.
Rivers have reached their highest levels in several years in some areas and some have flooded their banks.
“The 2016 drowning toll illustrates how deadly our rivers can be with river drownings making up almost a third of overall preventable* drownings” says CEO Jonty Mills.
“Trampers, campers and holidaymakers in areas where there has been heavy rainfall need to be wary. Rivers are very changeable, currents can be deceptive and objects can move and shift under the surface.”
Jonty Mills says one of the biggest risks with rivers is changing conditions particularly after heavy rainfall.
“Swollen rivers should be avoided. Anyone thinking of crossing or swimming in a river in an area where there’s been heavy rainfall needs to think twice” says Mills.
“We would urge people to use extreme caution, listen to weather reports and get the best local knowledge possible.”
*Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving)