The owner of a kayak hire company charged over the deaths of two Melbourne university students on Lake Tekapo has appeared in court.

Ricky John Harnett faces several charges laid by Maritime New Zealand and appeared briefly in Timaru District Court today.

Harnett, who is yet to enter a plea, will reappear in November.

Daniel Thomas Hollnsteiner, 21, from New York, and James Robert Murphy, 20, from London died when a group of 11 exchange students from Melbourne's Monash University got into trouble on Canterbury's Lake Tekapo in September last year.

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Hartnett was charged with four offences under the Maritime Transport Act which each carry a maximum penalty of fine up to $10,000 and/or three months imprisonment. He also faces three charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act which have a maximum fine of $250,000 per offence.