Australian dies rafting in Queenstown

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An Australian tourist died yesterday afternoon after a raft overturned on the Shotover River near Queenstown.

The man was on a guided trip with Challenge Rafting into the remote Skippers Canyon area, with five other Australians visitors.

A media statement from the company said after the raft overturned: “The raft guide and dedicated safety kayak guide initiated routine rescue procedures to assist the rafters to the bank.

“A client was assisted to the shallows however shortly afterwards required CPR. A defibrillator (carried on board) was utilised.”

The man was pronounced dead when a medical team arrived by helicopter.

It is the second death for a rafting firm owned by Queenstown tourism giant Real Journeys in as many months.

Much-loved Queenstown Rafting guide Moana-Roa `Chief’ Haare (62) died on March 23, while leading a commercial rafting trip, also on the Shotover River.

He collapsed on the bank sometime after this raft had overturned. Preliminary post-mortem results indicated he died from a medical event.

Yesterday’s statement from Challenge Rafting said rafts overturning is a “common occurrence”.

Emergency services were called shortly after 4pm.

“Queenstown Rafting, managing on-river operations, ensured emergency procedures were immediately activated, and all support services and regulatory authorities were alerted.

“A helicopter evacuation of the remaining rafting group was initiated to Lakes District Hospital. One person required medical treatment, the others were evaluated and have been offered counselling.”

Maritime NZ and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission have been advised of the incident.

“Challenge Rafting wish to offer their deepest sympathy to the victims family and friends.”