14 Jan 2020

Police resume search for body of missing kayaker

12:05 pm on 14 January 2020

Boats and helicopters are looking over more than 40 square kilometres of murky water, as the search for a missing kayaker on Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora resumes this morning.

A view of Lake Ellesmere

Lake Ellesmere Photo: RNZ/Conan Young

The 59-year-old Christchurch man didn't return to his family after a lone mission to check fishing nets on Saturday morning.

Police think he came out of his kayak, which was pushed away by the wind and found by search crews on the Kaitorete Spit that afternoon.

More than 20 people from police, Garden City Helicopters, Surf Life Saving and Waimakariri-Ashley Coastguard were unable to find the man by Sunday evening, and the search was put on hold yesterday.

Detective Brent Menzies said it was resuming today but they were now looking for a body.

"That search today will be supported with the helicopter and also inflatable rescue boats... with the aim of recovering this person's body and bringing him back to his family," he said.

The lake itself is about 198 kilometres square at an average depth of 2.1 metres, but Menzies said the search area runs from the point where the man launched his kayak across to where it was found.

"We've gone quite wide either side of that line, so the [search] area itself covers about 40 to 50 square kilometres," he said.

Menzies said the police dive squad were providing advice to search crews, but the large search area and limited visibility meant it wasn't practical to put divers in the water yet.

The man's family, who had asked for privacy, had also been helping with the search efforts.

The kayaker's disappearance was another tragedy on the water that could have been avoided, Menzies said.

"I can only urge everyone to be conscious of their own safety when conducting activities on the water. People need to wear their life jackets. Even if the water is shallow things can and do go wrong," he said.

Police will not release the man's name at this stage.