Woman dies while snorkelling

By Kelli Hooks of the Wairarapa Times-Age -
Sandy Bay, east of Martinborough. Photo / File
Sandy Bay, east of Martinborough. Photo / File

A South Wairarapa woman who died while snorkelling with her husband on Monday was Lynne Falk, of Te Awaiti.

Mrs Falk, a 64-year-old retiree, and her husband had been searching for paua just south of Sandy Bay, east of Martinborough, when her husband saw she was motionless.

Senior Sergeant Warwick Burr said police were called to the scene about 2.30pm.

"While snorkelling, the husband looked across and saw his wife floating in the water, he pulled her out of the water and she wasn't able to be revived," Mr Burr said.

Police and emergency services attended, a Westpac helicopter was also called to the scene but was stood down when it became evident the woman had died.

The cause of death was unknown but Mr Burr said there were no suspicious circumstances: "It's been referred to the coroner."

Mrs Falk's neighbour, Ed Holter, called her an "absolutely fantastic" woman: "The sort of person everybody would want for a next-door neighbour.

You couldn't get a nicer lady."

He said Mrs Falk was one of the first people he met when he moved to Te Awaiti.

"[It's] very sad what happened yesterday ..."

Mrs Falk and her husband were happily married and had been living in the area for a long time.

Mr Holter said conditions on Monday had been fine.

"It was a beautiful day, even I was in the water yesterday."

He said the Falks were well equipped, safe and experienced.

"It's just an unfortunate accident."

South Wairarapa district council coastal ranger Colin Olds, who is employed during the summer months, said incidents such as these were always "really sad".

"But at this time of the year, and over the summer months, people do take risks.

"She could have hit her head or taken in a gulp of water, and water is such a dangerous medium."

Mr Olds said there was nothing significantly dangerous about the area.

However this was the second water-related death near Sandy Bay in just months.

This year, 72-year-old Martinborough man Tupara Kiel went missing while setting a crayfish pot in choppy seas near Te Awaiti.

He had launched an inflatable boat from Sandy Bay on January 10.

His dog, Ice Cream, swam to shore.

An extensive search was carried out by Land Search and Rescue, an RNZAF P3 Orion, a Helipro helicopter, fishing boats and members of the local community.

The official search was called off on January 13, but relatives of Mr Kiel camped near Sandy Bay for weeks and continued to search the shoreline.

His body wasn't found.

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