Tour operations suspended after tourist’s death

Moutohorā Island, also known as Whale Island. Photo: Elaine Fisher.

All tour operations to Moutohorā Island in the Bay of Plenty have been suspended following the death of tourist.

Investigations are underway after a tourist fell and was seriously injured while on a guided tour of Moutohorā Island, also known as Whale Island, on Thursday April 4.

First aid was immediately provided and the emergency services were called, says a statement released today by White Island Tours.

The Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter attended and the injured person was airlifted to Tauranga Hospital, but died on Friday evening.

“We are all deeply saddened and devastated by this tragic accident and we send our thoughts and aroha to the deceased’s whanau,” says Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Chairman, Paul Quinn.

“We are looking to see what support we can provide to them at this very difficult time.”

WorkSafe and the Department of Conservation, which administers Moutohora Island and its tracks, are both conducting investigations into the incident. 

White Island Tours are co-operating fully with both investigations, and will participate in any coronial enquiry, if and when that occurs.  

The Department of Conservation has suspended all tour operations on Moutohorā Island while the investigations are ongoing. 

“Until the Worksafe and DOC investigations are complete, we are unfortunately not able to make any further public comment on the incident,” says Paul.

Police have confirmed that an investigation has been launched following the death of the tourist.

"Whakatane Police are investigating a sudden death that occurred last week on Moutohora Island, also known as Whale Island.

"A man suffered injuries from a fall on the island on Thursday 4 April."

The 73-year-old was provided with first aid before he was flown to Tauranga Hospital where he later died, says a police spokesperson.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious however Police are currently investigating on behalf of the Coroner."



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