Tourists manage to swim to shore after canoe accident

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand - Two French tourists tipped into Lake Wakatipu have had to swim to shore in a chilling echo of one of Queenstown's worst boating tragedies.

Tourists manage to swim to shore after canoe accident

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand – Two French tourists tipped into Lake Wakatipu have had to swim to shore in a chilling echo of one of Queenstown’s worst boating tragedies.

Four years ago on December 6, French backpackers Raphael Soubrier, 21, and Yoann Firdion, 24, drowned after getting into trouble on the lake.

Yesterday, two young Frenchmen swam to shore when their canoe was swamped by the chilly water about 5pm.

Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown, said the pair set off in a canoe, described as a “crap boat”, wearing poor lifejackets and no wetsuits.

They were tipped out of their canoe once they were out on the lake but managed to swim to shore, where they were treated for cold.

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No other details were available and Queenstown Lakes District Council harbourmaster, Marty Black, was unavailable.

In 2010, Soubrier and Firdion set off in calm conditions to paddle across the lake from Queenstown Bay to near Hidden Island and hike Cecil Peak.

Bad weather had set in when they descended after the hike, with a 20-to-30-knot southerly and a 1-metre swell.

At 10pm a commercial operator received a panicked phone call muffled by strong winds.

A rescue helicopter from Te Anau spotted the men’s bodies in the water about 12.45am after a three-hour search. An inquest highlighted the men’s lack of appreciation and the dangers posed by New Zealand’s inland waterways.

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