Huka Falls daredevil: ‘I was prepared for it’
A man who shot the Huka Falls rapids on a board no bigger than his torso has been condemned as reckless.
And it wasn’t the first time he’d done it.
Porirua man Hayley Patuwai, 32, captured attention when a video of him going over Huka Falls near Taupo on a boogie board went viral.
Patuwai - who calls himself Dr Bubbles - said the Waikato River stunt was three years in the planning.
‘‘[I] jumped in a year ago to test the pressure. It’s 3000 metric tonnes of water per second ... I was prepared,’’ Patuwai said.
‘‘I knew I could handle it. People might ask why I didn’t wear safety apparatus, but that works against the water.’’
Huka Falls are on the Waikato River, 4 kilometres north of Lake Taupo.
The volume of water flowing through the falls section of the river is about 220,000 litres per second - enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 11 seconds.
The falls are about 11 metres high.
Patuwai, who has no social media account, said he wasn’t expecting his stunt to be recorded Facebook.
‘‘I want to be seen at a distance. I do challenges for myself, not the attention,’’ he said.
Patuwai has a reputation for stunts. In 2008, he kayaked from Titahi Bay in Porirua across Cook Strait to Picton, sparking a search.
Water Safety NZ chief executive Jonty Mills also said Patuwai’s actions were irresponsible.
‘‘From and a posted on drowning- prevention perspective, which is what we advocate for, it’s clearly irresponsible and dangerous and extremely high risk,’’ Mills said.
‘‘It’s like playing Russian roulette and ultimately roulette will win in a situation like that.’’
Mills said it was a good example of why men make up 85 percent of all preventable drownings.
‘‘They overestimate their ability and underestimate the risks.’’
Hayley Patuwai, 32, boogie boarded down Huka Falls.