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Water Safety New Zealand is urging extreme caution around New Zealand rivers as torrential rain across the country causes a surge in river levels.

Rivers have reached their highest levels in several years in some areas and some have flooded their banks.

“The 2016 drowning toll illustrates how deadly our rivers can be with river drownings making up almost a third of overall preventable* drownings” says CEO Jonty Mills.

“Trampers, campers and holidaymakers in areas where there has been heavy rainfall need to be wary. Rivers are very changeable, currents can be deceptive and objects can move and shift under the surface.”

Jonty Mills says one of the biggest risks with rivers is changing conditions particularly after heavy rainfall.

“Swollen rivers should be avoided. Anyone thinking of crossing or swimming in a river in an area where there’s been heavy rainfall needs to think twice” says Mills.

“We would urge people to use extreme caution, listen to weather reports and get the best local knowledge possible.”

*Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving)


Jonty Mills – CEO

Jonty joined Water Safety New Zealand in 2016. Previously he had spent more than 20 years in communications and external affairs leadership, operations and business development roles. He brings expertise in stakeholder management to CEO and ministerial level, with a blend of private and public sector experience.   A long-standing member of BP's Senior Leadership team and media spokesperson Jonty has a background of leadership roles in marketing, operations and business development across commercial and retail business channels.  During his time at BP, he was responsible for managing the company’s community partnerships – including Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Young Enterprise Trust and Royal Society of New Zealand – and has experience in advocacy as the interface between BP and central and local Government. He also helped embed safety as the number one priority and value across the organisation and is a strong advocate for Water Safety New Zealand’s core values and strategic direction.   027 478 1836 

Extreme Caution Advised Around Rising Rivers

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