Russian Tourist Dies After Diving Marlborough Sounds

Another foreign tourist has died in a tourism activity in New Zealand.

This latest fatality was on 6 January during a guided dive in Port Gore at the top of the South Island, part of the Marlborough Sounds which also was the scene of the dolphin boat incident in December when an Australian tourist’s legs were shredded.

It was a  58 year old Russian woman who died, she was part of a group of seven Russian divers accompanied by five diving staff who went out to explore the sunken Russian ship Mikhal Lermantov.

According to a NZ Police press release

The women entered the water to dive the wreck, however shortly afterwards returned to the boat for unknown reasons and died on board.

The cause of the woman’s death is unclear and the matter is being referred to the Coroner. A Post mortem is planned for Monday the 10th January in Christchurch.

The women is said to be an experienced diver and a member of a Russian dive club which is currently touring New Zealand diving various sites…more here

According to a report on Stuff the tourist group had been on an excursion organised by Dive Picton

In a statement Dive Picton owners, Ben and Dale Ashworth, said a paramedic and several qualified staff had attended the woman after she collapsed on their dive boat, Ruku.

“Unfortunately after a long period of resuscitation she was unable to be revived.”

The Press also published an interview with the owners

A Russian tourist who died on a Marlborough Sounds dive trip collapsed on a boat after briefly entering the water.

Dive Picton owners Ben and Dale Ashworth said the 58-year-old woman returned to their vessel, Ruku, in Port Gore after a couple of minutes in the water, and collapsed about noon on Thursday.  It was unknown why she had returned, but Ben Ashworth said her Russian colleagues had indicated she was “uncomfortable” and had to be helped on board…

Our deepest condolences go out to the woman’s family and friends.

Adventure tourism companies were recently the subject of a wide ranging review of the industry following a large number of high profile deaths and serious accidents over the last few years in New Zealand, some of the deaths occurred during water related activities including jet boating, canyoning and river boarding.

As a result of the review adventure tourism regulations were introduced for the first time in New Zealand, however these do not fully take effect for another four years. Read New Adventure Tourism Regs Drawn Up – 4 Year Grace Period.

In November a party of tourists from various countries was injured when their Shotover jet collided with a cliff wall and Swedish tourist died whilst swimming with dolphins in the sea off Kaikoura.

Travel Advisories About New Zealand

A number of countries have taken the precaution of issuing travel advisories to their citizens about the risks involved with visiting New Zealand.

This is Australia’s recent release (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