14 Jun 2010

Tourist death on guided Franz Josef hike investigated

10:40 am on 14 June 2010

Several inquiries are under way into the death of an Australian tourist who slipped while on a guided tour of Franz Josef Glacier.

John Parisis, 38, from New South Wales, was among a group taking part in a day-long trip with a party of about 12 people on Saturday.

Constable William Parker says initial reports suggesting Mr Parisis fell a number of metres were incorrect, rather it now appears he slipped while walking in an ice corridor in an area known as Lower Defiance.

He was flown to the Franz Josef township, but paramedics there could not revive him.

Constable Parker says a photographer has been sent to the scene to help with the investigation.

Police say statements have been taken from guides and about 30 other people who were on tours at the time.

They say the exact cause of Mr Parisis's death won't be known until a post-mortem is completed in the next few days.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides, which is owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism, suspended its tours and is running its own investigation into the death. It resumed operations on Monday.

Ngai Tahu Tourism, which owns the guiding company, says Mr Parisis was walking along the bottom of the ice corridor when he fell, lost consciousness and couldn't be revived.

The Labour Department is also making initial inquiries and the Department of Conservation, which issues concessions allowing guided tours on the glacier, says it is closely following the police investigation.