A coach full of tourists has been involved in a serious road accident on the Haast Pass Highway (SH 6) 6 km north of Makarora.
The coach, which was passing through forested area at the time, collided with a Mercedes that overtook it on a straight section of road. Black ice was thought to have been a contributing factor in the crash which sent both the car and the bus spinning out of control into nearby trees.
The ODT reported that 4 people were seriously injured and were taken to hospital, the Southland times said that the bus was operated by Kiwi Experience and that 44 tourists were on board.
The coach party comprised mostly of backpackers who were said to be severely shaken by the accident and taken to the Makarora Wilderness Resort cafe to recover and wait for replacement transport.
No details have been released of the nationalities of the people involved. More on the story here Tourist bus, car crash into forest
2007 a bus, also carrying 44 mainly British tourists plunnged down SH6 near Franz Josef Glacier in Westland. That bus was operated by Kiwi Experience.
A NewstalkZB report at the time stated: “A local near the scene says the passengers have been told by the tour company, Kiwi Experience, not to speak to the media. The local says most of them appear to be in good spirits.”
2008 another British tourist was killed when a coach operated by Stray Travel (who market themselves under the slogan “Get further off the beaten track with unique stops and activities“ ) tumbled 10 metres down a bank 30 km south of Westport on the west coast. At the time The Press reported:
“One woman, a 62-year-old British national who lived in Spain, was thrown from the bus and killed instantly, police said.
The crash is the latest in a series of accidents involving tour buses and has generated negative publicity for New Zealand’s tourism industry in some of its core markets, including in Britain.
National Party transport spokes man Maurice Williamson said he would be asking questions in Parliament about the safety of tourist bus operations.
A Dutch passenger, who declined to be named, said the bus `just drove off the road’ ”
See also Times Newspaper report: Briton dies in NZ bus crash, for more details, including other tourism bus accidents in NZ’s west coast region.
It will be interesting to see if this latest tourist bus crash will again raise in parliament the issue of tour bus safety and whether or not the injured people will be able to claim for compensation under the “New Zealand Life Back Promise”.