Two Australian tourists were rescued from Lake Rotorua tonight after a kayaking trip to Mokoia Island was hit by high winds.
The pair, aged in their early 20s, had paddled to the island in kayaks rented from Mana Adventures on the Lakefront. They were returning to shore when their boat took on water and sank.
Rotorua police Detective Sergeant John Wilson said they were in the water for about two hours before they were rescued and brought to shore around 6pm.
"Lake Rotorua can be quite treacherous, especially when there's a strong southerly," he said.
"The lake's not to be underestimated. By the time the coastguard was activated Kawarau Jet had already gone to look for them and effected the rescue, which we want to give them credit for. We have a happy ending."
The pair were taken to Rotorua Hospital to be checked out.
Kawarau Jet skipper Nick Kelly said it took at least an hour of searching before they found the pair.
"It was pretty tricky to be honest with low light and it was reasonably choppy," he said.
"We drove around for an hour before we first spotted them. They both had a paddle and that's what we saw. They were pretty knackered and miles away from anywhere. Rotorua can change really quickly, it doesn't take much."
Mana Adventures owner Donna Solomon said Kawarau Jet, their neighbours at the Lakefront, were their stand-by rescuers in case anyone was late returning.
She said she asked them to search for the pair when they weren't back by their due time of 4pm.
"If we'd waited for the coastguard it could have been a different outcome. We know Kawarau Jet closes at 5pm so we don't like having boats out after that."
She said the pair had told her they had experience kayaking and they wanted to get to the island, which is about 5km from the Lakefront.
"We told them it was a long way but they were confident they could make it. We kept an eye on them as they went out. They told us they'd made it to the island but on the way back they went against the wind and that's where it went wrong."
She said they were found on the west side of the island heading towards Kawaha Point.
"The main thing is they're safe."
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