We sell a lot of floating sunglasses in NZ. They’re a smart and stylish idea and just the thing you want to be wearing when you’re around the water, including the rivers that make up a huge part of our great outdoors. If you’re exploring our magnificent outdoor regions, particularly on multi-day trips, chances are you’ll have to cross a river at some stage. This can be dangerous, particularly for novices, so when it’s time to make a river crossing, keep these three questions in mind: 

  1. Should I cross?

If you’re alone, try to avoid outdoor excursions that might require a river crossing. Attempting to do so on your own is not recommended. After all, who will help you if you get into trouble? So, just don’t do it unless you’re in a group. And never, ever cross a river in flood. 80% of river crossing drownings occur when a river is flooded.

  1. Where Should I Cross?

When looking to cross. check the speed of the river and look downstream for run out hazards and to see if there are any good entry and exit points. Avoid crossing on a bend, above an area  where another stream joins the river, or where the water appears dirty and cloudy.

  1. How should I cross?

First of all, appoint a group leader to manage the crossing and make sure everyone can hear their instructions before getting into the river. Ensure you’re not wearing loose and bulky clothes, wear your boots or shoes, and keep the gear you’re carrying in your pack in plastic bags. It’s best to keep your body side on to the current while taking small shuffling steps. To conserve your energy, link up and move diagonally downstream with the current to conserve your energy, and position the strongest people at the upstream end to break the flow for others. Ensure the upstream person is slightly ahead of the person next downstream, and continue that pattern down the line. 

If the crossing doesn’t go as to plan for any reason, remain in your linked up formation. Back up slowly out of the river and don’t break the link until everyone is in very shallow water. As outdoor adventurers ourselves, we always follow these tips and we’re still here to tell the tale. It’s simple advice, but please keep it in mind the next time you’re about to cross a river. And if you lose your sunglasses on the way, remember that the floating variety will be easy to find!