Australian Tourist Injured By Dophin Boat – Updated

Today’s Stuff is carrying a story about an Australian tourist who was flown to hospital after being cut by a boat propeller in Ruakaka Bay, Marlborough Sounds shortly before midday.

The woman, who is said to be 49  year old Catherine Carlyle from Adelaide, came into contact with the propeller as she jumped off the back of the Dolphin Watch Ecotours boat, sustaining deep lacerations to her legs and a possible fracture.

According to the news report

“…When the Wellington-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter met the boat at the wharf in Picton ambulance officers were already treating the woman.

Pilot Logan Taylor said the cuts to her legs “were quite deep”.

“She got told it was OK to hop in and obviously the prop was still turning,” he said.

“They were going to do some snorkelling.”

The woman was flown to Wellington Hospital where she is being treated for her injuries…” Read the full report here

Our thoughts are with Ms Carlyle and we wish her a full and speedy recovery from her injuries.

Judging from the severity of her wounds it is possible that the propeller was still turning as she entered the water, if so she was very fortunate not to have suffered massive blood loss or the loss of a limb. We wonder how many “near misses’ may have happened with other people before she was injured.

Update 12 December 2010 – Bad News for NZ Tourism, Safety Needs Hard Look At

A Blenheim based relative of the injured woman was reported in Stuff as saying:

“It’s absolutely hideous,” he said. “That it could ever happen is just crazy. It’s just bad news for New Zealand tourism. It’s just another activity New Zealand is renowned for that has now gone wrong. The safety issues need a really hard look at.”

Further details of the incident were revealed on Stuff:

“The group had already done one dive when the boat stopped in Ruakaka for a second dive.

The tour guide blew the whistle to say it was safe to jump.

Mrs Carlyle got caught in the boats propellers and had deep cuts all over her legs. One leg was broken.

She was airlifted to Wellington Hospital and had surgery yesterday afternoon…” read the full report here

A number of deaths have occurred recently whilst people have been swimming with dolphins in New Zealand.

Last month Swedish tourist Anita Engman, age 56, drowned whilst swimming with dolphins in the sea off Kaikoura. She was on organised event with Encounter Kaikoura and had been on holiday in New Zealand with her husband and friends from Sweden.

Three other people have died whilst swimming with dolphins or whales in New Zealand, at the time of their deaths this activity was not governed by any guidelines or standards. Among them was American tourist Emily May Parker, from Denver Colorado, who was found face down in Marlborough Sound whilst on a tour with Dolphin Ecowatch Tours in October 2009

According to an article published in the Marlborough Express at the time neither Maritime NZ nor the Department of Labour were to make any investigation into Ms Paker’s death. Even though the coroner’s investigation had yet to be completed, they believed that her death was from “natural causes” and that it was a “police matter”.

Australia Updates Travel Advice For NZAustralia recently issued the following advice to travellers to New Zealand: (emphasis ours)

“Many tourists safely undertake adventure activities in New Zealand. However, many adventure tourism activities have inherent risks, and there have been a number of serious accidents involving Australians and other tourists, some resulting in deaths. Some operators have been found to be negligent.Travellers need to make their own judgements about the risks involved in individual or group activities and safety standards of individual operators. We strongly recommend travellers inquire with individual operators about the safety standards adhered to, whether these standards are applied across the industry and the risks involved in the activity. We recommend travellers hold travel insurance and complementary accident or income protection insurance and understand what circumstances and activities are not covered by the policies. You should be aware that safety standards in New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry may differ between individual operators and may differ from those in Australia.” (Sept 2010)

Article in the Sydney Morning Herald – “Adventure tourism a deadly business” August 24 2010:


Adventure tourists are killing themselves for a good time in New Zealand.

So much so that the government is looking at tougher measures to improve safety in the industry.

During five years (July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2009) 39 people died in NZ in what are recorded as workplace activities.

But the actual number is likely to be much higher as recreational deaths were not included…” read full article here

Further reading  – Our NZ Adventure Tourism Facts and Stats page

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