A man who warned two French kayakers that bad weather was on the way says he's upset about their deaths, but he did everything he could to stop them.
The bodies of the tourists were found in Lake Wakatipu at about 1am on Tuesday.
Queenstown Paraflights director Carrick McLellan says he saw the two men on the lake on Monday morning and told them to go back because of the changing weather.
He says he made it very clear that their kayak could easily tip over, and gave them his mobile phone number.
The men, aged in their 20s, were in a double kayak with a single paddle.
A 20 - 30 knot southerly developed on the lake during Monday, throwing up swells of one metre.
The men called Mr McLellan, desperate for help, just before 10pm, saying they were in the middle of the lake taking on water.
Several local vessels joined the Coastguard in a search that ended when a night-vision equipped helicopter from Te Anau found two bodies near the middle of the lake.
Police say they believe the 12-hour gap between the men being seen and calling for help indicates they made it across the lake, in order to climb Cecil Peak, and came to grief on the return journey.
They were wearing lifejackets.