The Wānaka App
The Wānaka App
It's Your Place
The Wānaka App

Crimeline: Read the sign

The Wānaka App

Sue Wards

08 May 2024, 5:06 PM

Crimeline: Read the signTrampers ignore this sign at their peril. PHOTO: Supplied

Numerous rescues around Mt Brewster continue to be a theme for Wānaka Police and Search and Rescue (LandSAR).

Senior sergeant Fiona (Fi) Roberts said another group was extracted from Mt Brewster last week after the Wānaka LandSAR team was helicoptered in to walk them to safety. 

“They weren’t prepared; it was for a day trip” she said. “It all worked against them - it could have cost them their lives.”


Fiona said people are often attracted to the area due to social media posts, but Mt Brewster is an alpine environment with complicated terrain, ranging from the risk of rising river levels at the beginning of the track to the glacier at the summit. 

“The walk from [the] hut to the glacier traverses a bowl that gets covered in snow and ice,” she said.

“Know your ability and be aware that it is a challenging undertaking. It requires navigation skills, appropriate gear avalanche and mountaineering awareness. This is not a route that relies on luck.” 


She drew people’s attention to the sign posted at the beginning of the Mt Brewster track (pictured above).

Police advise people follow these simple rules to help make sure their trip is a safe and enjoyable one:

  • Take a personal locator beacon (PLB).
  • Plan your trip, including the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
  • Make sure someone knows your plans, including the day you expect to return – that way they can raise the alarm if you don’t return as planned.
  • Make sure to check the forecast and be prepared for all eventualities. New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable and weather conditions can change rapidly. 
  • Know your limits: Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.
  • Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario.


Reports from station owners show that poaching continues to be a problem, and rural liaison Shaun McClintock is currently working with farmers, Fiona said.

She recommended anyone with concerns should get in touch with Wānaka Police. 

“We’re dead keen to get in front of that as it involves trespassing on people’s private property and the use of firearms.”

Road policing

Fiona said she has seen people driving in these frosty mornings with “periscope vision” - a small hole scratched out in their windscreen ice.

“Don’t do that,” she said.

She advised drivers to be vigilant around schools, adding that school patrols will be ongoing.

There was a “disappointing” breath alcohol reading of 1090 mcgs from a driver coming out of Queensberry on Tuesday (May 7), and Fiona said the Impairment Prevention Team (IPT) would be back in Wānaka this week. 

“Sadly, they are getting some results out of Wānaka which is why they are spending quite a lot of time over here. 

“Expect to see police patrols anytime, anywhere. Our staff will be out on roads, often in locations you least expect us to be. So please take your time and drive to the conditions.”

Fiona said police continue to focus on four main behaviours (RIDS): Restraints save lives – anyone who chooses not to wear a seatbelt significantly increases their risk of injury or death if they end up in a crash; Impairment - Drinking and driving should not be mixed; Distractions - drive distraction-free. Put the phone away or pull over; and Speed - be aware of the posted speed limits on your travels. Even a small change in speed makes a big difference to injury severity in a crash – for you and everyone else involved.

Duck shooting

Duck shooting season kicked off last weekend, and Fiona was pleased Wānaka Police had not received any reports of dangerous use of firearms.

“Most of our injuries from bird hunting happen in May and most of those also happen in the first weekend, so we’re through that so we’re asking people to remain vigilant and keep up the good work in that space,” she said.

She reminded firearms licence holders to ensure they are up to speed on firearms safety, and to lead by example before going hunting.

“The key messages of ‘Plan safe, act safe, stay safe’ are: Treat as loaded; safe direction; chamber a round only when ready to fire; identify your target; check your firing zone (what if I miss); storage and transport firearms safely; and remember that firearms and drugs/alcohol don’t mix.” 

Call 111 when you need an emergency response from police, fire or ambulance.

Call 105 to report things that don’t need urgent police assistance.

Call *555 to report road incidents that are urgent but not life-threatening.

To make an anonymous crime report contact Crime Stoppers.

PHOTO: Wānaka App