A 73-year-old man who fell seven metres onto rocks below while on a tour of Moutohorā Island (Whale Island) has not survived his injuries.
The tourist fell during a guided tour on the Bay of Plenty island on Thursday and was seriously injured, White Island Tours confirmed today. Emergency services were called and first aid was immediately provided before he was flown to Tauranga Hospital where he later died on Friday evening.
Whakatāne police confirmed they are investigating the incident on behalf of the coroner but not treating it as suspicious.
A WorkSafe New Zealand spokeswoman said it was notified of an incident which took place on Moutohorā Island last week. While she confirmed it had opened an investigation, it was unable to make any further comment, she said.
Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter airlifted the injured person to Tauranga Hospital which pilot Liam Brettkelly said was a straightforward rescue.
"He just fell off a walking track and landed on rocks below, about seven metres we think.
"We had to winch him out, using the winch from the helicopter. We were only out there for maybe an hour."
The Department of Conservation, which administers Moutohorā Island and its tracks, is also investigating the fatal fall.
Senior community ranger Mike Jones confirmed all tour operations on the island have been suspended until further notice while investigations were ongoing.
"We will be investigating the circumstances of the incident and have no timeframe on that at the moment.
"Some of our staff who were working on the island at the time assisted in preparing the injured person to be winched up by the air ambulance."
White Island Tours said it was co-operating fully with the investigations and would participate in any coronial enquiry, if and when that occurred.
Paul Quinn, chairman of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, which owned White Island Tours, said they were all deeply saddened and devastated by the tragic accident.
"We send our thoughts and aroha to the deceased's whanau. We are looking to see what support we can provide to them at this very difficult time," Quinn said.