An American woman whose husband died on holiday in New Zealand has penned a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, slamming the justice system.

Kate Jurow lost her husband, Richard Hyde, when he was struck by a tourist bus near Queenstown in April, 2016.

The couple were on what she dubbed a trip of a lifetime downunder when the 73-year-old was killed.

What followed was an experience that left her without any legal help in a foreign country and a punishment she said was a slap on the wrist.


In a letter also distributed to media, Jurow tells Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern it is inexcusable that a country like New Zealand should be "so casual'' and indifferent to victims and their families.

"I wish I could say that I respect the New Zealand justice system and that Rich's death was accorded the attention and gravity that it deserved,'' she wrote.

"But that was not the case. Despite a guilty verdict, the bus driver who negligently caused his death, as well as the tour company involved, walked away with barely a slap on the wrist.

"There were no fines or monetary recompense imposed at all.''

The bus driver involved, a 63-year-old woman who worked for Southern Discoveries at the time, was eventually convicted and charged.

Her licence was suspended for six months and she was ordered to do 150 hours of community service. She was also given permanent name suppression.

During a judge-alone trial last year, the court heard how Hyde had been knocked over while walking behind the tourist bus, which had earlier just stopped.

A passenger who gave evidence said despite being severely injured, Hyde continued to talk and at one point asked someone to retrieve his cellphone - under the bus - so he could call his wife.


Speaking to his wife, he repeatedly told her he had been run over and said: "I love you.''

Jurow explains in her letter that during her time in New Zealand, after her husband's death, she struggled to find legal help.

"I could find no lawyer willing to help me, to simply provide knowledge of a totally unfamiliar legal system - a circumstance which in itself was bizarre and very upsetting.''

The widow acknowledged that she did receive something from the New Zealand Government.

How much she received was not revealed. But describing the amount she was given, she said it was less than what a local gas company had paid out when it broke the family's sewer line.

"For all intents and purposes, Rich might as well have been a stop sign that got knocked over.''


The widow also made a number of recommendations, including one also given by Coroner Anna Tutton - that all tourist-operated buses have reversing cameras or mirrors installed, to eliminate blind spots.

Other recommendations Jurow gave included that family members of a victim or victims have access to a good advocate.

She said she was never, at any point, given accurate information about New Zealand's court or legal system.

"A country presenting itself as a world-class tourist destination must be prepared to provide clear and meaningful assistance to visitors in severe distress.

Given the circumstances, I can only conclude that your justice system is designed to protect the interests of the tourist industry, and not the interests of the tourist,'' she said.

"With tourism now your major income source, this is both shameful and incomprehensible. Your country, and its increasing number of visitors, deserve better."