Hereford & Worcester

New Zealand extreme sports review warns of safety risk

Emily Jordan
Image caption Emily Jordan drowned after becoming trapped beneath a rock

Safety standards in New Zealand's adventure tourism industry must improve, a report has concluded after a woman from Worcestershire drowned.

Emily Jordan, 21, of Trimpley, died in the Kawarau River near Queenstown while river boarding in April 2008.

A full safety review was ordered after her father Chris wrote to the prime minister John Key.

Gaps in the industry's safety operating framework could lead to injury and harm the country's reputation, it said.

'Insufficient assurance'

The Adventure tourism safety review ruled out a fundamental problem in the sector's ability to develop appropriate safety systems, but said there were inconsistencies in the way safety standards were applied by companies.

"There are gaps in the safety management framework which allow businesses to operate at different standards than those generally accepted.

Image caption The review has recommended companies register for compulsory external safety audits

"While these gaps remain there is insufficient assurance that preventable accidents will not occur.

"This situation could result in harm to individuals and their families and damage to New Zealand's reputation as an international visitor destination," the Department of Labour's report said.

The review team said it was unreasonable to expect that all accidents could be eliminated because of the nature of the activities involved, but the risks should be managed to minimise preventable accidents.

It recommended that all firms register for external safety audits and said industry-wide safety practices should be developed.

'I was appalled'

Miss Jordan had just graduated from Swansea University and was travelling with her boyfriend in New Zealand when the pair signed up for the Mad Dog River Boarding activity.

The company had failed to carry any ropes and admitted two health and safety charges.

It was fined NZ$66,000 (£27,600) and ordered to pay £33,500 to Miss Jordan's family in compensation.

Following the publication of the safety review Mr Jordan said: "When I came back after the trial last year I was appalled with what was happening with river boarding.

"I wanted a high quality licence put in place across the tourism industry. I welcome the safety registration scheme and audits coming along, but I have some reservations.

"The devil is going to be in the detail, the time frame has yet to be decided when this will be rolled out and are there going to be spot audits?"

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites