Please include as much detail as possible. We will use this information to advise members and improve safety for everyone. Please report incidents such as rescues, injuries, issues with other water users, pollution/health issues, general river safety etc. as well as major incidents or accidents and near misses

Incident Report Form

Whitewater NZ aims to promote safe, enjoyable canoeing, by undertaking the following tasks:

  • Facilitate the provision of independent advice
  • Maintain incident database
  • Maintain uniform national grading system
  • Publish and promote safety code (code of practice)
  • Maintain kayak river safety and competency syllabi and approve course providers

Topics: River Safety & River Rescue CoursesCourse ProvidersCode of Practice

Epics and Incidents: WhataroaKawarauMangorewaHokitikaKahuterawaKakapotahiMangahaoJetboatsPaddling flooded riversPublic LiabilityShoulder dislocationsSurfer’s Ear

Current Issues

Whitewater NZ has made a submission on ACC’s Drowning Prevention Strategy (Feb 2005).

Proposals for jetboats on Buller raise safety concerns.

The Maritime NZ (MNZ) (formerly MSA) have introduced Rule Part 91, which makes most current PFDs, and even surfing on many waves, illegal. Jonathan Hunt and Tony Ward-Holmes provide an overview of the implications of Rule Part 91.

Previous issues

Whitewater NZ has opposed an application to extend a tourist jetboat service through Smith’s Falls citing conservation and safety concerns; also read the press release
(PDF, 75k).


Learn from the incidents reported in the Accident/Incident Database.

Kayakers on the Whangaehu and Tongariro rivers should be aware of lahars.

Be safer on the river with an Whitewater NZ-approved River Safety Course! Find the course provider nearest you.

Doug Rankin describes his experience with ‘surfer’s ear’ and the benefits of earplugs.

Glenn Murdoch examines issues surrounding public liability for clubs and volunteers in the wake of the prosecution of the Le Race organiser Astrid Anderson for criminal nuisance. Earlier, Kent France summarised public liability of clubs involved in kayaking. Pip Lynch assesses the implications of criminal nuisance prosecutions in outdoor recreation. Tony Ward-Holmes reflects on the nature of risk recreation and issues of liability (2004).

Be careful with those spring flows! Check out a great article by Hugh Canard on Paddling flooded rivers.

Having trouble with jetboats? We and the Maritime Safety Authority want to know all about it. Please read Robin Rutter-Baumann’s article on jetboat Accidents and Incidents. Glenn Murdoch raises concerns about jetboats on the Hawea (2004).

Whitewater NZ submitted regarding proposals to plug the gap in Rock A on the Rangitaiki River (2004).

Epics and Incidents

John Rice recounts his serious pin on the Whataroa (2006).

Sue Olaman and Karl Waddick describe a tragic Sunday on the Kawarua (1999).

Dave Nelson relates a tale of a trip down a flooded Mangorewa river that turned into a weekend epic (May 1997).

Rob Leroy describes his personal experience of a leg entrapment during a raft trip in the Gore Canyon, Colorado.

Vladimir Filipovic reflects on the impact of a fatal kayaking accident on the Lower Hokitika and Graham Charles analyses the accident (May 2002).

Bob Morton analyses an incident-packed weekend on the Kakapotahi River.

John Craven and Graeme McIntyre spent a night in the bush after a trip on the Kahuterawa stream went awry, as described in Making the Headlines. Police later praised their preparedness and decision-making.

Timon Walkley recounts the day on the Mangahao when his boat got pinned, in Mangahao Release.

Shoulder dislocations are a particular risk for kayakers. Robin Rutter-Baumann passes on some lessons from an incident in the Rangitata Gorge.