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Follow Up: River Safety In The Outdoors

In light of the tragic events in Auckland, it’s important that we explore river crossing in more detail for those heading into the outdoors.

NZ Mountain Safety
Feb 4, 2018 · 2 min read

Some popular tracks have swing bridges or cableways, but trampers often need to cross rivers. River crossing deaths occur in New Zealand each year, so you need skill and sound judgement. Take all river crossings seriously.

Remember: “If in doubt, stay out”

Watch: Get Outdoors — Expedition — #20 Cross a River Safely

Resource: River Safety

River Crossing > Watch

It’s important to exhaust all options that don't involve crossing a river. Be prepared to back-track or divert your plans significantly. Waiting it out can often be the best option as rivers can rise and fall quickly in New Zealand.

Warning signs of an unsafe river include,

  • Water moving faster than normal walking pace.
  • Discoloured, cloudy, surging water.
  • Visible debris in the river such as tree branches.
  • The sound of rolling boulders on the river bed
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GROUP: Use mutual support methods. The more people in the party, the more strength there is for crossing and for supporting anyone who slips or falls. All river-crossing methods have their advantages and disadvantages and, in difficult conditions, no method is absolutely safe.

SOLO: We encourage people who are out there alone to not cross rivers by themselves unless they are very experienced. Wait for another party of people to come by, find a bridge or go back.

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Be prepared to divert your intended route >

For more information please head to our website for hints and tips on how you can stay safe in the outdoors.


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