Tom Donaldson Inquest – Coroner Says ‘Warn Tourists’ – updated

A brief report into the death of British tourist Tom Donaldson has just been made in the Northern Advocate.

According to the paper the coroner said that

“Visitors wanting to experience New Zealand’s adventure tourism should be warned that they are taking a risk.

That message, from Northland’s coroner, comes as the region prepares to accommodate thousands of tourists for next year’s Rugby World Cup.”

The inquest found that Mr Donaldson had ignored the warnings of a far north tour operator and chose to sand board down a dune known locally as “suicide hill”, despite being warned to only slide between the flags.

Update: Tom’s sister Freya contacted the blog to say that newly qualified and inexperienced Tom had been taken to the dunes by consultants from an Adidas clinic, who had been there to sand board  before. This was not highlighted in any of the media reports of  Tom’s death, or in the reports of the inquest.

The paper reported that coroner, Brandt Shortland

“said adventure tourism businesses should warn those keen to experience the thrills about the dangers via their websites.

It was timely to do so as about 16,000 people were expected in Northland for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“What must be said is that Mr Donaldson chose not to follow instructions in that he engaged a sand dune that ultimately cost him his life,” Mr Shortland said.

“People have to remember when engaging in adventure tourism they have to follow the rules for their own safety.” read the full report here

We blogged about Mr Donaldson’s death in February 2009, saying that there was no mention of the word ‘dangerous’ in any of the advertising material for sand boarding at the Omapere/Opononi dunes. See Another tourist dies in New Zealand.

A review of adventure tourism in New Zealand was recently carried out following the deaths of a number of international and local holidaymakers, including children on an outdoor adventure camp.

The review was only instigated after a high profile campaign was launched by the father of Emily Jordan, who died riverboarding. Her father Chris wrote to John Key calling safety regulation in New Zealand “third world.

Almost 3 years on and an inquest is yet to be held into Emily’s death, read Still no inquest for Emily Jordan, 13 November

Safety Gaps in NZ Adventure Tourism

The review found safety gaps that risk more accidents and damage in New Zealand’s $3 billion adventure tourism industry, gaps that allowed some to operate with less than acceptable safety standards.

The two major outcomes were recommendations that adventure tourism Operators be registered (which stops short of a licensing system) and that  “most” be audited in order to remain on the register. Read Safety gaps found in adventure tourism review, 24 August 2010

For more about New Zealand’s appalling record for adventure tourism deaths, click here.

Our deepest condolences again go out to the family and friends of Mr Donaldson at this very difficult time.

3 thoughts on “Tom Donaldson Inquest – Coroner Says ‘Warn Tourists’ – updated

  1. if you go on hokianga express charters it advertises sandboarding as going down vertical slopes at excessive speeds, and then Mr Clarke- who ran the trip, claims that he tells people not to go down steep slopes. Well that’s very contradictory. And where has suicide hill come from? The only mention of that is through Tom’s death..i think it’s been made up. There needs to be more warning.

  2. thank you for taking the time to reply he was with 5 other NZ people, but as you say it looks like he was alone and made the choice himself not guided by others who had gone down before him. he was a very responsible wonderful person and he has been so badly let down by those other men who took him to this place and by the press, we hope the uk see this differently.

  3. Another cover up Tom was taken by consultants from the adidas clinic they had been there before, he was newly qualified and looked up to them, what a mistake they killed him!!!!!!

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