Nugget Pt rescue warning to others
A kayak rescue at Nugget Point last week was the result of a wildlife snapshot gone wrong, it has emerged.
An experienced, all-female party of Bay of Plenty sea kayakers in their 40s and 50s were rounding the scenic Catlins beauty spot at about 11am on Thursday, when a member of the party decided to take a photo of nearby fur seals.
While taking the shot, the woman lost control of her kayak and capsized, eventually making her way to nearby rocks at the foot of steep cliffs to the north of the Nugget Point lighthouse, Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club president and rescuer Andrew Budge said. Despite suffering from cold and a gash to her leg, the woman was in good spirits when he arrived in the club IRB.
‘‘[Paul Richardson and I] just patched her up and reassured her, before the helicopter arrived.’’
The surrounding rocks were also swarming with fur seals, giving the kayaker an unexpectedly extreme close-up of the very wildlife she’d been trying to photograph.
‘‘There are all sorts of hazards around that bit of coast, wildlife just one of them,’’ Budge said.
Although extremely uncommon, the rescue was a warning to other coastal users.
‘‘I think the last time we had a kayak rescue down there was in the 1980s, so it’s pretty unusual, but with reefs, big swells and the unpredictability of the ocean on that bit of coast, you need to be prepared for anything.’’
Fortunately, it appeared the party had been experienced and well prepared, Budge said, otherwise there might have been a less happy outcome to the incident.
‘‘When the first kayaker capsized and ran aground, the second member of the party then paddled ashore to tend to her companion, with the third remaining offshore and contacting emergency services on her cellphone.
‘‘They had all the necessary provisions in terms of food, warm clothing and safety gear, but being unfamiliar with the area and conditions, have just come a bit unstuck.
‘‘With the fog the next day it would have been a different story, so the message is pick your conditions, be prepared and, if in doubt, stay out.’’
‘‘There are all sorts of hazards around that bit of coast, wildlife just one of them.’’
The Otago Rescue Helicopter airlifts an injured member of the sea kayak party stranded on rocks.