Next time you see the 100% Pure You advertisement that shows a mother and daughters blowing away their cobwebs on a speed boat safari in New Zealand, spare a thought for the people who have been maimed and killed doing this type of activity in New Zealand. On the day that a Candian tourist met his death and another was seriously injured in a jet boat crash in Tauranga Harbour the NZ Herald also reported on the findings of an investigation into a jet boat crash that occurred in February 2008.
“Driver distraction was to blame for a serious jet boat crash in which several tourists were injured, including a man who suffered burns after being doused in petrol, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has found. The Dart River Jet Safari boat crashed into a gravel bank and overturned on the Dart River in the Queenstown Lakes District, near Glenorchy, with 18 passengers aboard on February 20, 2008. The boat was heading downstream towards Lake Wakatipu when the driver pointed out a flock of geese to an interested passenger. After looking ahead again, the driver realised the boat was too close to the bank and adjusted the helm and throttle. However, the corrections came too late and the boat grounded, sliding along the bank for a short time before coming to rest on its canopy. The passengers kicked out the windows to escape. One passenger suffered burns after he was soaked in petrol that was running out of a fuel tank vent. The driver helped him to remove his shirt and wash in the river. A woman suffered a broken collarbone, while two other passengers suffered bruising. Read the full report here
The Canadian tourist was later named as 63 year old Richard Evans. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends for their loss. In November of last year five people were taken to hospital when their Shotover Jet boat collided with a cliff wall near Queenstown, among them were tourists from Germany, the United States and Britain. In September 2008, Chinese tourist Yan Wang, 42, was killed when a jetboat operated by Kawarau Jets flipped over in the Shotover River. Since 1995 the NZ Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC)has investigated at least 20 occurrences involving jet boats. Three involved high-speed rollovers: one each in 1997, 1998 and 2008. The Commission made safety recommendations covering the fitment of rollover bars on jet boats operating on braided river systems and the need for accurate recording of passenger numbers on boats to assist emergency services. These three rollover accidents resulted in one fatality, five serious injuries and three minor injuries. After series of fatal ‘accidents’ (mostly involving tourists) there was a wide ranging review of adventure tourism in New Zealand that found gaps in safety. Following the review recommendations were made to introduce a registration scheme (not licensing) and mandatory auditing Subsequently regulations were recently introduced that will require operators to be registered and to undertake regular certificated safety audits. Unfortunately the new regs don’t take effect until October 2011 after which there will be a three year long period of grace before all businesses will be required to comply. Meanwhile a number of countries have issued advisories to their citizens visiting New Zealand and participating in adventure sport activities. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
“There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors; these also include extreme sporting accidents. If you intend to participate in extreme sports you should check that the company is well established in the industry and your insurance covers you. If you intend visiting remote areas, you should check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. You should ensure that you register your details with a Visitor Information Centre or family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas and you should keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.” April 2010
“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
“Visitors wanting to experience New Zealand’s adventure tourism should be warned that they are taking a risk.” and that adventure tourism businesses should warn those keen to experience the thrills about the dangers via their websites.”
If they don’t, we will. You may also find interesting NZ Adventure firms ‘run by seat of pants’, say critics Tourists Injured in Queenstown Jet Boat Crash, Another Died Swimming With Dolphins Safety Gaps Found In Adventure Tourism Review Adventure Tourism and Safety in NZ – Facts and Stats