Dumped lake items tell Queenstown story

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 23, 2024

A group of free divers retrieved two phones, two smartwatches, a GoPro, a few beer bottles and half a dozen fish carcasses during a dive in Lake Wakatipu.

The items were all found this weekend during a 17-metre dive near "Little Thailand", a popular cliff jumping spot into the lake below. 

Lake Wakatipu's waters may look clean and pristine from the surface, but local free driver Owen Hale knows there's a lot of "detritus" sitting underneath. 

"We're seeing things under the water and it's a mess - there's rubbish and stuff everywhere."

He's been part of the Queenstown Freediving Club for six years and says they go for these underwater clean-ups a few times a year in addition to their training and competitions.

"We know it's a problem...We're going to do what we can to clean the place up."

He says there are some items under the surface he'd like to return to their owners, including more than 20 alliance road cones near Queenstown Bay. 

But retrieving them is more difficult, as they lie in controlled water space.

Mr Hale has been talking with the harbourmaster and council to figure out a way to clear them safely, with all the comings and goings in the bay.

Aside from keeping the lake clean, Mr Hale says it's also fun to hunt for treasure, with a fellow diver recently pulling $20 from the lake. 

Rumour has it a "high-rolling" gambler once dropped a big wad of winnings in the water.

It's never been found, he says. 

Mr Hale got into free diving six years ago wanting to take on a more "passive sport" after a back injury. 

He says Queenstown's group was started in 2015 by Kathryn Nevatt, who holds the New Zealand record for the longest time holding breath underwater - seven minutes and 45 seconds. 

Main image (Supplied): Two phones, two smartwatches, and a GoPro were among the latest finds in Lake Wakatipu by a group of local free divers, April 2024.

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