Adventure Tourism And Safety

New Zealand

New Zealand (Photo credit: theboywiththethorninhisside)

Following a high number of preventable deaths and serious injuries some countries have issued travel advisories for New Zealand

Australia (May 2011)

“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. 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.

Travellers need to make their own careful judgements about the risks involved in individual or group activities and of the 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.”

(May 2011)

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 do check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you intend visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Ensure that you register your details with a Visitor Information Centre or family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas so keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.”


NZ workplace safety a ‘national disgrace’ – consultant (NZ Herald Jan 2013) “New Zealand’s health and safety record has been labelled as ‘woeful’ and a ‘national disgrace’ by a consultant with two decades’ experience in the sector…Robyn Levinge says New Zealand has never prioritised health and safety like it has with road safety, domestic violence and drink driving…”As a country, we have simply not given health and safety the priority it deserves at any level…”

One Way Ticket  (60 minutes TV,  Oct 2012) “Every year, thousands of young Australians fly off for a gap year adventure. Their travels take them all over the world, often to poor and dangerous places that make their mums and dads fret…But the world capital of adventure tourism can be a deadly place as Glenn (Bourke) and eight others so tragically discovered…”

New Zealand Adrenaline Nation (ABC News, Oct 2012)”not everyone walks away from an adventure tourism experience in New Zealand. Over the past eight years at least 50 visitors have died when things went dreadfully wrong. Many more have suffered crippling injuries…In a forensic examination of New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry and safety regime, correspondent Dominique Schwartz exposes significant flaws in regulation and safety awareness. She investigates the activities of a prominent ballooning operator with a troubling track record and hears evidence that NZ’s taxpayer-funded accident compensation scheme (ACC) may be enabling poor practice.”


General information.

  • The Search and Rescue (SAR) Annual General Report for 2011-2012 revealedA total of 103 fatalities were recorded (over double the number for 2010-2011) – this equates to two people dying every week in the NZ outdoors.SAR were involved three times every day in land based incidents – a 10% increase over 2010-2011.SAR is involved in more land based incidents than water based – a significant change over the past six years.

Man falls to his death whilst participating in team building fund day in Woodhill (NZ Police March 2013)””A 57-year-old man fell to his death yesterday while attending a team building fun day at Treetops Adventures, Woodhill, Auckland.

A Doctor and an Advanced Paramedic were participants on the course nearby and rushed to assist the man. He died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

OSH attended the scene and are working closely with Treetop Adventures to investigate how the the fatality occurred.”

People at the park voiced concerns about safety and overcrowding before the fall.

  • Licensing or approval is not currently required for many operators to commence commercial activity provision. Some agencies have the authority to certificate commencement of an activity for specified activities or to restrict its commencement through consenting processes. Powers to order adventure and outdoor commercial sector activities to cease to operate are similarly constrained. The regulations that are to be introduced in October 2011 will only require operators to be registered, not licensed, and companies will be allowed 3 years in which to comply.

Accidents and other incidents

Statistics and Inaccurate Record Keeping

  • Since 1995 the NZ Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC)has investigated 20 investigated occurrences involving jet boats. 3 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 3 rollover accidents resulted in one fatality and, 5 serious injuries and 3 minor injuries” together with another accident in Feb 2009 there has been one fatality, 5 serious and 5 minor injuries in a period of just over 11 years.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority moved to prevent Christchurch ballooning company Up, Up and Away Ltd from flying its hot air balloons. The CAA director said “I consider that the operation presents a threat to people’s safety, and have taken action to stop it.” The action was only taken after it was disclosed that  “in 1995, when the company was called Balloon Adventures, Peter Kollar, a then-director of the company, was piloting a company balloon that ditched in the sea off Waimairi Beach in Christchurch. Three tourists drowned…In 2004, a Christchurch court was told the company, since re-named Balloon Adventures Up Up and Away Ltd, had been the subject of 15 complaints to the CAA since 1992. These including flying in fog, clipping power lines and making unscheduled landings in the middle of suburban streets in the city of Christchurch. Mr Kollar finished as a director and went to the United Arab Emirates five years ago, saying he was the victim of a vendetta by the New Zealand aviation authorities.” (source)
  • Tourism plays a significant role in the New Zealand economy. For the year end March 2009, tourism directly and indirectly contributed $15 billion (or 9.1%) to New Zealand’s GDP (excluding GST and import duties). International tourist expenditure over this period accounted for $9.3 billion or 16.4% of New Zealand’s total export earnings.

4 thoughts on “Adventure Tourism And Safety

  1. Hi Chris i a was watching ABC 1 as this operator of Venture Balloons faild to comply for saftey of others as i will never ever fly or tour with this company,i sorry to hear wat happen to your daughter and others,
    I hope this person face justices.
    I am on your side,keep up the fight.

  2. Condolences from me as well, and good for you Mr. Jordan not to accept their brush-off. YOur daughter’s life has more meaning than that of a statistic. If everyone insisted on examination of these unprofessional investigations and proceedings in New Zealand, maybe they would be intimidated into taking a little more care with them.

  3. Thank you for contracting us Mr Jordan, please accept our deepest condolences for the loss of your daughter Emily. Her life and death touched many people.

    Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time in the days leading up to the inquest. We wish you well in your efforts to achieve justice for her and to improve safety standards for the many thousands of people who participate in adventure sports in NZ.

  4. I am the father of Emily Jordan who you may remember was killed in NZ in April 2008 whilst river boarding with Mad Dog. The Company and owner was subsequently prosecuted, but the owner was let off. The Company finished up with a small fine for killing my bright intelligent daughter, which was covered by an insurance company? Interesting result?
    I am now preparing for an inquest in the UK, as the NZ Coroner refused to do this. I have not been given the reason why for this. I can only make assumptions?
    If anyone has any information that may be relevant for the inquest I would appreciate them contacting me.
    My E Mail address is:

    I am planning to publish a book after the inquest, so all information is relevant but will remain confidential. However this must be factual.

    Thank you,

    Chris Jordan

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