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Island party lambasted by officials

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/12/2016
Image of Lake Wanaka © SNPA/Grahame Clark Image of Lake Wanaka

Travelling to an island in a middle of a lake to get drunk on an inflatable is a very bad idea, officials in Wanaka who dealt with 500 people doing it say.

The party on Ruby Island in Lake Wanaka on Thursday organised via Facebook got out of hand, according to Queenstown Lakes District Council deputy mayor Calum MacLeod.

He says as many as 500 people headed out to the island and got drunk.

One man was pulled from the water with his lifejacket over his arm because he was incapable of putting it on, and told rescuers he couldn't swim.

The QLDC harbourmaster's team learnt of the event by chance and mustered resources to assist. If they hadn't people may have drowned, particularly if the wind had got up, Mr MacLeod says.

He said if the organisers had approached with the council first to get a resource consent, which is what they should have done, they would have found the location of the party was a bad one.

"There is one long-drop toilet, they hadn't made any provision for food and water, or first aid. And they effectively shut out all the rest of the people who might have wanted to go over to the island yesterday."

While organisers insisted that everyone who took part had to wear a lifejacket, no-one was enforcing the rule and when people began the return trip later in the afternoon no-one was keeping count of participants to make sure that everyone got back safely.

Mr MacLeod said he hitched a ride to the island with the harbourmaster, and was less than impressed by what he saw.

"We don't want to be the grinch but this had all the elements for trouble on a large scale, with the emphasis on going out on the lake in small boats and drinking.

"If you get pissed and fall down at a land based event you just end up looking like an idiot however if you get pissed and fall out of a small inflatable boat you could die," he said.

A fire was lit on the island in breach of the restricted fire season, and the harbourmaster had to ferry members of the volunteer fire brigade across to the island to make sure it was completely extinguished.

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