Safety concerns have prompted Environment Waikato to suspend a Lake Karapiro towing zone that was opened to water skiers last year.
The council voted to allow water skiing in zone 13, a stretch of water upstream of Finlay Park camp, last December, following a review of its Navigation Safety Bylaw. This allowed water skiers to use the zone between 1 December and the beginning of Easter, while a five-knot speed restriction would apply at all other times.
However, Environment Waikato’s acting navigation manager Shelley Monrad said monitoring over summer has raised a number of concerns and one incident had seen 10 children in kayaks capsize at the same time. This was a result of people operating vessels at speeds in excess of five knots in an adjacent five-knot zone.
There were a range of issues with zone 13, including:
- children regularly using the northern end of the towing zone for swimming, kayaking and other activities
- an increase of speed offences and breaches of the five-knot rule in the area
- difficulty with maintaining safety signage
- weed issues at the southern end of the zone.
As a result, the harbourmaster recommended council close zone 13 to water skiers due to navigation safety concerns.
On Friday, council voted to suspend the zone under clause 4.2 of the Navigation Safety Bylaw at its monthly meeting in Hamilton.
Signs will be installed on the river bank and at boat ramps to advise the public.