Men rescued after air mattress fail on Otago river rapids should foot bill - harbourmaster

People who need rescuing over "their own stupidity" should be made to foot the bill, a Queenstown harbourmaster says, after two men got into trouble while riding down rapids in Otago's Kawarau River on air mattresses yesterday.

A helicopter and rescue crew were sent to retrieve the pair at 11pm, an hour and a half after the call out was received, after harbourmaster Marty Black refused to send someone on a jetski to save them due to the dangers involved, the Otago Daily Times reports.

"It's an area just below Dog Leg Rapids, you don't want to be playing around there in the dark," Mr Black told the newspaper.

"I'm not saying we shouldn't go and rescue them, but they need to take responsibility for their actions.''

He said he was "dead against" taxpayers having to foot the $2000 per hour bill for rescue operations.

Kawarau River Station.