Three missing yachties drowned, coroner rules

The Munetra disappeared in Foveaux Strait in April 2014. Photo / Supplied
The Munetra disappeared in Foveaux Strait in April 2014. Photo / Supplied

Three people who disappeared on a yachting trip in Foveaux Strait almost two years ago drowned, Coroner David Crerar has found.

Two young German tourists and their inexperienced skipper vanished on April 16, 2014, after setting out from Bluff Harbour in a 7.7m fibreglass yacht named Munetra.

Skipper Andre Kinzler, a 33-year-old Winton dairy farm worker, and German students Veronika Steudler and Lea Tietz, both 19, were on board.

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They have not been seen since.

The trio planned to sail to Preservation Inlet, the southernmost fiord in the Fiordland National Park, and the alarm was raised on April 24 - two days after they were due back in Bluff.

Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand began aerial and sea searches, and on May 2 a partially-deflated and damaged liferaft from the missing yacht washed ashore at Flour Cask Bay on the southern tip of Stewart Island. Four days later a squab from a seat in the Munetra's galley washed ashore on the Pahia Headland, in Te Waewae Bay, west of Riverton.

Nothing more has been found.

"Police enquiries have resulted in the advice that it is believed Lea Tietz, Veronika Steudler and Andre Kinzler died when the Munetra sank at sea in Foveaux Strait," Mr Crerar wrote in a report completed last month following a hearing in the Coroner's Court in Invercargill in November.

Mr Kinzler's lack of experience, his failure to heed an adverse weather forecast and a lack of adequate communication on board contributed to the tragedy, he found.

"I have no evidence that any person or organisation ... was in any way in breach of their duties or responsibilities."

- NZ Herald

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