Australian Tourist Injured In Bungy Accident, Another Has Collapsed Lung – Updated

Bungy Jumping

7 May An Australian tourist from Sydney has been injured whilst performing a bungy jump this afternoon above the Waiau River:

From a  NZPA report

“An Australian tourist is in a stable condition in Christchurch Hospital after slipping from a bungy cord into a river near Hanmer Springs today.

The woman, who had been holidaying with her partner, was flown to hospital after falling into the Waiau River during a bungy jump about midday.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot operations manager Stuart Farquhar told NZPA the woman was moved from the water to a small island by the bungy operator, Thrillseekers Adventures Inc. Paramedics treated her at the scene and she was then taken to hospital. A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said the woman was in a stable condition with non life-threatening injuries.

Thrillseekers sales and marketing manager Blair Hartland said the accident was devastating. “We understand that a customer has been injured, but we don’t have any further details at this stage. Mr Hartland said the company was investigating the incident, and the matter has been referred to police. “We will find out what exactly happened.”
“This is the first time we’ve had an accident like this and our staff there will be very upset about this,” he said.”

A Ninemsn report said that Thrillseekers has only been in control of the operation since October 2009.

Update  10 May – The injured woman was later named as 39 year old Kirsty Moulder from the Blue Mountains. Her mother said that she’d spent most of last night on the operating table while surgeons performed a “very long, serious operation”. It’s believed that she has a shoulder injury after slipping out of the foot hardness on the second bounce and falling six metres into the shallow, icy river.

Blair Hartland, from Thrillseekers  said they were discussing “a full support and compensation package” with Ms Moulder’s husband (source)

Another Australian tourist is had also got into trouble whilst in New Zealand. From the SMH:

” a young Australian climber is stranded with a suspected collapsed lung in a hut on New Zealand’s highest mountain.

Bad weather is hampering efforts to rescue the 34-year-old man, who called for help about midday yesterday.

Police said the man was at 2450 metres in Kelman Hut at the head of the Tasman Glacier on Aoraki Mount Cook on New Zealand’s South Island.

He was with a group of up to 15 other climbers, three guides and two search and rescue personnel.

The climber was believed to have been training on the mountain before he became sick.”

There have been several bungy jumping accidents in New Zealand (source NZH):

In May 2003, Rotorua woman Jamie Shaw, 19, suffered severe bruising after falling more than 8m into a stream after her foot slipped from the bindings during a tandem bungy in Rotorua.

In September 2000, a Taiwanese tourist, 29, received head injuries after slipping from a harness and falling 25-30m into the Waikato River.

And in 1997, Canadian Nancy Todd, 20, plunged into the Shotover River near Queenstown after part of her bungy detached as she rebounded from a jump in Skippers Canyon.

These latest incidents happened at a time when New Zealand is still awaiting the outcome of a review of the Adventure Tourism industry that was instigated after a number of high profile deaths, including that of British tourist Emily Jordan whose father called for an investigation into the industry. 29 people have died and at least 540 have been seriously injured in NZ adventure tourism activities over a 5 year period.

Catherine Peters, an 18 year old student in her first year of a veterinary degree at Massey University died in March last year from injuries sustained when she fell 20 metres from the Ballance Bridge in the Manawatu Gorge, near Woodville. She was participating in a commercially-run bridge swing exercise with Massey University’s alpine club, organised by Crag Adventures.

The British families of Emily Jordan, Sarah Bond and Tom Sewell (the latter two both died in quad bike accidents, Sarah on Te Anga Farm, Waitomo and Tom in a fruit orchard in Katikati) formed a pressure group to push for a high quality extreme sport licensing system to be established in New Zealand, in an effort to improve safety standards and to regulate novel sports before they are allowed to set-up, much the same as what happens in Great Britain. The group has yet to give itself a name.

When Tom Sewell died a NZPA report stated

“The on-farm handling of quad bikes has been an issue raised by accident investigators and insurers. Bikes have been getting bigger and more powerful. Training of riders has also been an issue.”

Safety Regulation “Third World”

Emily’s father Chris Jordan wrote to PM John Key calling for a review of the industry calling its safety regulation “third world” after his daughter died in a river boarding activity and called the fine given to the company that took her out “an insult“. Mad Dog Riverboarding, one of many companies to be tried during 2009, pleaded guilty but the fine was not enough to put them out of business – not only are they still trading and but amazingly  they’ve also recently applied to expand their operations.

Mr. Jordan wrote in his letter to Mr Key that he had spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found. He said

It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed. This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide.

Review already delayed

His letter prompted a review of the industry, which has already been pushed back by two months (See blog post Adventure tourism review extended’) in order  “to give operators sufficient time to engage more fully with the review” suggesting a lack of buy-in amongst those in industry who see no reason to participate.

We think that this nonchalance is probably what’s caused the parents to form their pressure group: to ensure that the initial impetus is maintained and the review is not allowed to wither and die before it’s even properly started.

The group has our full support, something must be done to improve safety standards in New Zealand  before any more people are killed or seriously injured. Three outcomes we’d like to see from the report are:

  • Better protection of employees and the public through by more comprehensive and well managed risk control strategies, bench marked against international standards. These procedures should  be reviewed regularly to ensure they’re effective.
  • Less reliance on ACC to pick up the tab and more muscle exerted by insurance companies on higher risk activities.
  • Heavier penalties for operators who fail to manage risks properly, including closing down operators who are considered to be unsafe and imposing manslaughter charges where applicable. Revenue raised through fines and licensing should be returned to the industry to further improve safety standards.

We also echo the families’ call for a licensing system to be established in New Zealand and feel sure that there is a wealth of information and support in the UK which NZ could draw upon in establishing its own, high quality and world class scheme.

See also NZ guiding industry failing to manage risks properly


“In the five years to September 2006 some 779 overseas residents died in New Zealand. In comparison, 95 tourist deaths occurred in Australia for the two year period between 2003 and 2005. A direct comparison with NZ and Australian figures are not available due to the lack of NZ government agencies collecting these statistics.” (source)

6 thoughts on “Australian Tourist Injured In Bungy Accident, Another Has Collapsed Lung – Updated

  1. Thanks, information added.

    That’s quite a difference between the two countries, more so when one considers their relative sizes and the numbers of visitors for each one.

    It would be interesting to find out if NZ government agencies genuinely don’t collect the statistics, or whether they don’t release them. Something that may be uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act Search perhaps?

  2. I thought the information on the following page could be useful.

    Dying to come to New Zealand?
    Sunday, February 25th, 2007

    In keeping with our doom and gloom New Zealand travel theme, we thought it would be prudent to publish recent statistics relating to accidental death of tourists in New Zealand.

    In the five years to September 2006 some 779 overseas residents died in New Zealand. In comparison, 95 tourist deaths occurred in Australia for the two year period between 2003 and 2005. A direct comparison with NZ and Australian figures are not available due to the lack of NZ government agencies collecting these statistics.
    End Quote

  3. That’s understandable, we can appreciate why they don’t want to say anything – NZ doesn’t have a good record for treating whistle-blowers justly.

    We keep an eye on travel advisories about NZ from other countries, they sometimes contain clues to what’s happening to tourists in New Zealand.

  4. Unfortunately, most of the information I have is from sources that don’t want to get into trouble, for example, hospital employees, and so on.

    I read on another blog that a tourist organization once released some statistics which put the number of dead tourists at more than about 150 or so per year, but their figure probably included the road toll.

  5. We know, for instance, that statistics gathered for serious injuries sustained in road accidents are often wrongly classified by the police and conflict with hospital discharge data. But, it’s hard to understand why adventure tourism deaths are being under reported, unless of course it is deliberate.

    Are you able to give us more information on the exact number of people killed doing adventure sports in 2009, or show us where the information may be found?

  6. I have head counted many more people killed doing adventure sports in 2009 than the ‘Department of Labour report on safety in adventure tourism’ likes you to know. [Not all of the cases were reported by NZPA, mind you.]

    As for the number of those seriously harmed, 540 seems a very, very low figure, too.

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