Body of 21-year-old found, drowned while swimming near rapids in Waikato River

News from NZ Police
The body of an Australian man who went missing yesterday during a swim in the Waikato River was found this afternoon by the Police National Dive Team in the river close to where he was last seen.

The 21-year-old man was Mathew Slade from Melbourne. Mr Slade’s parents flew to New Zealand this morning and had been waiting for news close to the search scene.

Mr Slade travelled to New Zealand on 22 December and was planning to stay in the country until March, riding and training ponies for the World Championships of the Equestrian Mounted Games.

He had previously represented Australia in this sport and was intending to compete this weekend in a pairs event and in February in a team event. Although not competing in the World Championships in March he was key to the event preparing New Zealand provided ponies for foreign competitors.

Earlier News from NZ Police
The parents of a 21-year-old man missing in Taupo have arrived in New Zealand from Australia. The man got in to trouble while he was swimming in the Waikato River at approximately 6.15pm last night. Searches were carried out until nightfall and have resumed today with the assistance of the Police National Dive Team.

Weather conditions are good, but the river remains fairly fast flowing.

Attempts are still being made to contact a couple of immediate family members who need to be notified before the name of the missing man can be released.

News from NZ Police – January 9
Police are urging everyone to take extra care around water as another rescue gets underway for a missing swimmer. At approximately 6.15pm today police were notified of a man missing near the Full James Rapids downstream of the Aratiatia Dam on the Waikato River in Taupo.

The man, believed to be an Australian tourist in his 20s, was staying in the area with a group of people. He went for a swim and then started calling for help. A female companion ran to the riverbank but the man disappeared from view.

A Rapids Jet boat i searched the waterway with Police and Coastguard personnel on board, The Taupo Harbourmaster used a jet ski and Taupo Coastguard used a Mighty River Power rigid inflatable.