Knowing the risks can avoid dangerous accidents

14 April 2022

Maritime New Zealand says an incident on Lake Wakatipu last year shows how a planned day of fun can go horribly wrong, in an instant.

A Queenstown man was sentenced this week following the incident in February last year when a child was seriously injured during a day out on his boat.

The young girl was one of four children taking turns on an inflatable biscuit being pulled by his boat.

Just prior to the fall, the girl was on the back of the boat feeding out rope, while two other children were riding on the biscuit.

The girl’s leg got caught in the rope and flipped her into the lake before she was then injured by the boat’s propeller.

Maritime NZ’s Southern Compliance Manager, Domonic Venz says the incident highlights the impact of incorrect decision-making.

"Instead of turning the boat’s engine off, the skipper manoeuvred the boat and the young girl’s leg was caught in the propeller," he says.

She suffered serious lacerations to her legs and was unable to walk for months.

"Prior to leaving shore the skipper prioritised safety for those on-board.

"He checked there were life jackets on board and had a briefing with the children explaining safety matters to them.

"Sadly when the victim fell out of the boat, instead of killing the engine and pulling her back aboard, he reversed, and she was struck by the propeller.

"Understanding the risks and turning the boat off would have avoided this situation.

"In high pressure situations it is critical skippers understand how to avoid situations that can put themselves, their passengers or others at risk," Domonic Venz says.

Maritime NZ recommends those in control of vessels know the ways of the water, this can be done at They should also consider undertaking courses to ensure they have the tools to manage potentially dangerous situations, these are available at

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