Thrillseekers Adventure Ltd Fined For Bungy Fall

It’s almost a year to the day since Australian tourist Kirsty Moulder was seriously injured when she “slipped” out of a bungy harness at the  old ferry bridge over the Waiau River near Hanmer Springs.

Today the company she jumped with Thrillseekers Adventure Ltd. were fined $40,000, in addition to the $18,000 they’d already paid in reparations to their victim.

The $18,000 must be what was referred to as a “full support and compensation package” that was being offered to Ms Moulder by Thrillseekers last year. So generous, one can only hope she had travel insurance too.

According to one news report Thrillseekers Adventure Ltd (emphasis ours)

“went though all their procedures and each step was double checked but they were well aware of the hazard that the ankle straps could slip off and did nothing to minimise or eliminate the hazard, which is unacceptable,” Department of Labour Christchurch service manager Margaret Radford said.

The company should have made sure a backup system was worn in addition to the ankle strapping, Ms Radford said.

“This would have prevented this terrible accident.”

The company now required jumpers to wear a full body harness.

The tourist was very lucky to be alive which might not have been the case, Ms Radford said.

At the time of the accident, Thrillseekers was the only one of eight bungy sites in the country that did not either have a secondary support available

Under the circumstances we think that Thrillseekers Adventure Ltd were lucky not to have been facing a manslaughter charge.

According to one Christchurch website Thrillseekers was

“purchased by The Wood Scenic Line Ltd, the operators of the Christchurch Tramway, Gondola, Punting on the Avon & Grand Tour. Ownership will change officially on October 15 (year unknown)  It will be known as ‘Thrillseekers Adventures’ and will be marketed in conjunction with the existing and very successful ‘Welcome Aboard‘ brand.

Situated on the banks of the Waiau River gorge and adjacent to the historic Waiau Ferry bridge the business has been family owned for over twenty years, offering Jet Boating, Rafting, Bungy Jumping and Quad Biking products as well as team building and conference based activities.

Managing Director of The Wood Scenic Line Ltd Michael Esposito said he is ‘delighted’ with the purchase. ‘We believe Thrillseekers has a great deal of potential and we are very pleased to have created this opportunity. A main focus for us will be to enhance the image, brand and quality of the operation while providing a viable option for international and domestic visitors.”

At that time of that article Blair Hartland was General Manager of Sales & Marketing for the Company and it was he who acted as the spokesman for the company in May last year when Ms Moulder was injured.

Regulation of Adventure Tourism

After a long line of serious injury and fatal adventure tourism ‘mishaps’ in New Zealand the regulation of the sector was being called Third World, with some companies operating in a “regulatory vacuum

A delayed review of the industry had already  been put on the back burner at the time Ms Moulder fell from the bungy rope. This was so that companies had “more time to engage” with the review.

Since then the review has been completed and new regulations introduced. From October 2011 operators will be required to be registered and audited.

Unfortunately it will be another three years before all 1,5000 adventure tourism businesses must be registered and in possession of a safety audit certificate.

It may be worth postponing that New Zealand adventure holiday until they do.

For background read

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

“NZPA

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

Australian Tourist Injured In Bungy Accident, Another Has Collapsed Lung – Updated (May 2010)

NZ Adventure firms ‘run by seat of pants’, say critics

Safety Gaps Found In Adventure Tourism Review

Adventure Tourism and Safety in NZ – Facts and Stats

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