Adventure tourism operators have been issued with safety standard reminders

More than 300 adventure tourism operators slow to engage in a major overhaul of the industry have been issued with reminder letters giving them the hurry up.

Tough new safety standards are being implemented over a three year period, up until November 2014, after which it will be an offence for an adventure activity operator not to be registered and have passed a safety audit.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which is overseeing the project, revealed just 52 out of an estimated 600 operators had signed up to a voluntary public register.

British man Chris Coker, whose son Bradley was one of nine people killed when a skydiving plane crashed at Fox Glacier in 2010, launched a high-profile internet campaign following the accident.


"I am disappointed but not surprised New Zealand has been slow on the uptake for the new safety regulations," he said.

"What kind of message is it sending out to the rest of the world? If New Zealand becomes known as a dangerous country to holiday in, it will be difficult to recover from that."

High risk operators - including canyoning, mountaineering, bridge swinging and snow activity firms - were advised they had three months to register for a safety audit and a further six months to pass it.

Out of the first batch of 30 operators instructed to commence the registration process, a third had not taken steps to engage a safety audit provider.

Garth Dawson, chief executive of Outdoors New Zealand said operators were "getting to grips with the new requirements".

Lesley Haines, deputy chief executive of the ministry's health and safety group said the number registered was disappointing insisted the government initiative will meet its targets.

"We are now concentrating our focus on getting the safety audits underway and completed by next year," she told the Herald on Sunday.

"We have a really robust regime in place to ensure this happens."