How Widespread Is Cannabis Use in NZ’s Adventure Tourism Industry

Cannabis use may be widespread in New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry

After the shocking revelation that Lance Hopping, the pilot involved in the Carterton Ballooning tragedy in which 11 people died, was found with cannabis in his system we’re asking how widespread is the use of this illegal drug in New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry, and how much of a factor does it play in the industry’s high accident rate?

Yesterday a report into the Fox Glacier Sky Dive NZ crash also found that two of the jump masters were also found to be under the influence of cannabis.

We think its time for New Zealand to require mandatory drug and alcohol testing for everyone employed in the adventure tourism industry. With more frequent testing of people involved in high risk activities where operator error may lead to serious consequences for thrill seekers.

Additionally, drug and alcohol testing must be carried out on operators immediately after an accident or fatality.

If New Zealand’s reputation as a safe tourism destination is have any degree of credibility the government will take this issue seriously and deal with it swiftly to allay public concerns.

From Stuff

Balloon crash pilot had smoked cannabis – report

The pilot of January’s balloon tragedy in Carterton was flying with cannabis in his system when he crashed, killing all 11 people on board.

Toxicology tests performed on the body of Lance Hopping, 53, four days after the crash returned positive for cannabis, with the discovery described as “concerning” by investigators.

The findings were part of an interim report issued by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) this morning, four months after the balloon struck powerlines, caught fire and crashed into a field on January 7…

…yesterday TAIC called for an alcohol and drug testing regime to be implemented for people performing activities critical to flight safety, after announcing that two tandem skydive masters had smoked cannabis before a Skydive New Zealand plane crashed after takeoff from Fox Glacier in September 2010.

While this morning’s report contains a number of details about what happened on the day, it includes no analysis of those facts, nor any recommendations or key lessons to be learned from the crash.

Instead those findings would be reserved for TAIC’s final report due in March next year.

The families of the victims were briefed on the report last month, and it is understood several people have had drafts of the report for weeks, including the balloon company owners, members of Hopping’s ground crew, and his fiancee Nina Kelynack.”

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3 thoughts on “How Widespread Is Cannabis Use in NZ’s Adventure Tourism Industry

    Comment by an R. Goode: “I’m a libertarian. I believe in individual freedom and personal responsibility. The big problem in New Zealand (much bigger than the problem with K2 being sold in dairies) is that people want individual freedom for themselves but they don’t want the personal responsibility that goes with it.” A much-repeated theme among migrants who are surprised at some of the attitudes they find in New Zealand. One thing I have noticed about the British Expats and other more upbeat forums is that the “happiest” posters have the briefest and most poorly-spelled posts. A friend of mine who is a psychologist told me once that people with Down’s Syndrome were statistically, as a population, much happier than higher-IQ people. Lowering your expectations, and with it your intelligence, appears to be the key to enjoying New Zealand.


    2010 and he’s still “calling for action”, LOL

    Long list of adventure tourism mishaps
    Last updated 12:14 29/07/2010

    Palmerston North bridge swing operator Alistair Ross McWhannell is the third adventure tourism operator to be convicted of manslaughter since 1990.

    McWhannell, held responsible for the fatal fall last year of Christchurch-born university student Catherine Peters, was thought to be the fourth successful prosecution in five years over an adventure-tourism related death, and the third finding of manslaughter since 1990.

    Catherine Peters, a first-year Massey University student, died after plunging 20 metres on to rocks below Ballance Bridge in the Manawatu on March 7, 2009.

    McWhannell, 47, who had sole responsibility for the swing, was found guilty of manslaughter after prosecutors said he had failed to pull the rope up to the correct length and properly secure it.

    He must pay $10,000 in reparation to the family of Ms Peters.

    * In 1990, bungy jump-master Jason John Collett was also found guilty of manslaughter after Thomas Wayne Hemi, 19, that year fell to his death during a bungy jump at Auckland amusement park Rainbow’s End on February 10.

    Collett, 19 at the time, failed to attach Mr Hemi’s bungy cords, evidence was given that he and Mr Hemi smoked cannabis together shortly before the jump.

    When delivering its guilty verdict, the jury made a special recommendation for Collett to be granted mercy, and he was later sentenced to 200 hours’ community service.

    * More than a decade later, a harsher penalty was handed to Stephen Parson, who admitted responsibility for the hang-gliding death of Greek Tourist Eleni Zeri.

    Zeri, 23, died during a tandem hang-gliding flight over Queenstown on March 29, 2003, after Parson, the tandem pilot, failed to attach the carabiner on her harness to a hang loop on the glider.

    When Ms Zeri told Parson, then 53, she was unable to hold on he tried to grip on to her with his legs, but she fell about 200m to her death.

    Convicted of manslaughter after pleading guilty partway through his trial, Parson was sentenced to 350 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $10,000 reparation.

    Adventure tourism has come under the media glare in a number of other recent deaths. In particular, two cases in 2008 raised questions about the unregulated nature of the industry.

    * On April 15, 2008, students Natasha Bray, Portia McPhail, Tara Gregory, Tom Hsu, Anthony Mulder and Floyd Fernandes, and teacher Tony McClean from Auckland’s Elim Christian College died in the Mangatepopo Gorge near Turangi when washed away by a wall of water.

    They were on an outdoor adventure course with the The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre.

    The centre admitted two charges laid by the Department of Labour, which said the group should not have entered the gorge given a weather forecast predicting heavy rain in the area.

    * Two weeks later, English tourist Emily Jordan, 21, drowned while river boarding with Queenstown company Mad Dog.

    She was trapped under a rock underwater for 20 minutes, as the guides, who were not carrying ropes, struggled to free her.

    Mad Dog was fined $66,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $80,000 to Ms Jordan’s family after admitting two charges of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of their customers, employees and other clients.

    Tourism Minister John Key called for a review of the industry’s safety standards after receiving a letter from Ms Jordan’s father, Chris Jordan, pleading him to clamp down on lax operators.

  3. Cannabis is very acceptable in New Zealand and usage is widespread, especially the younger the demographic. Not too long ago they busted a high school bus driver. And a high truckie who slammed INTO a schoolbus. and before that there was a schoolbus driver who was a dealer… sold it to the kids It doubles the crash risk The high school students at our local school smoke it in groups at the back of the footie field – no one does anything or cares. It is widely believed that weed is harmless or at least is more “innocent” than drinking, and it is this belief combined with a total lack of realisation that they are impaired when they do smoke it that leads New Zealanders to think (in many cases tragically) that they can function normally on it. They are deluded about whether they are high or not. Some of them smoke so much weed they have forgotten what it feels like to be normal. Tokers never think they are potheads. And as someone recently pointed out on a forum, they breed it strong here too – 4x the strength. One kid was found selling a kilo, worth 7K at school – he was 12 years old. “The incident underlines a worrying trend of drug use by intermediate and primary school pupils, which is borne out in the latest statistics”.

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