26 Sep 2015

Kayakers in Lake Tekapo tragedy named

5:53 pm on 26 September 2015

The two men who died on Lake Tekapo yesterday have been named as Daniel Thomas Hollnsteiner, from the US, and James Robert Murphy, from the UK.

Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo. Photo: 123rf

The men were part of an international group from Melbourne's Monash University. Mr Hollnsteiner was from New York and Mr Murphy was from London.

The two men, who were in their 20s, died when their group of 11 was hit by strong winds and choppy waves, swamping their kayaks and tipping them into the icy lake.

Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector David Gaskin said many of them swam to an island, while others were in the water for an hour before being rescued.

Three of the group were treated for hypothermia in Timaru Hospital and were released this afternoon.

The other survivors stayed in a motel in Timaru overnight, Mr Gaskin said.

The rescue effort by the local volunteers was sensational and was the reason most of the kayakers survived their ordeal, he said.

MacKenzie District local councillor Murray Cox, who is also a volunteer firefighter, was among those who hurried to help.

"[There was] no shortage of volunteers to call on so, when the kayakers came back into Tekapo, there were plenty of people here to look after them and care for them until the ambulance staff had arrived from Fairlie and Twizel."

Mackenzie District Mayor Claire Barlow said yesterday's accident had been a huge ordeal for the local community.

"It's been a huge day for them yesterday; a lot of them rallied around to help with the rescue of the remaining kayakers.

"They'll be pretty devastated, it's a small-knit community and they would have had all hands on deck."

She said it had been a sunny day when the group set off but they were caught out by freak weather conditions.

The group did not have a guide but conditions were calm when they set off, police said.

They said all of the nine survivors of the trip would be interviewed today to find out more about how Mr Hollnsteiner and Mr Murphy died.