12 Jan 2010

Kayakers could end up in court over rescue bill

6:13 pm on 12 January 2010

Two kayakers who are refusing to pay a bill for a search-and-rescue on Queenstown's Shotover River could end up in court.

They have told officials they will not pay the $4000 cost of the rescue, because they did not ask for, or need, help.

The pair sparked a two-hour helicopter search on 3 January when their upturned kayak was spotted in the river, which was running dangerously high.

They have been sent a bill to cover helicopter flying time and council staff time.

Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black says he and the Queenstown Lakes District Council are prepared to fight to recoup the costs through the court system.

Mr Black says the kayakers were advised not to go out on the rapidly rising river.

He told Summer Report when rescuers arrived they found one stranded on a bank of the flooded river with no kayak, and the other man on the other side of the river.

The local community should not have to absorb the costs, he said, when the situation was of the men's own making, and others have paid similar rescue bills without complaint.