26 Feb 2009

Tourist dies following sand-boarding accident

7:36 pm on 26 February 2009

An English tourist injured in a sand-boading accident in Hokianga in Northland last week has died in hospital.

Thomas Michael Donaldson, who was a trainee doctor, suffered serious head injuries while sand-boarding in dunes across the harbour from Omapere.

Mr Donaldson's family travelled from England to be at his side in Auckland Hospital, and he died shortly after he was taken off life support.

The death has been referred to the coroner.

Local people say the dunes where the accident happened are so steep that if a boogie board digs in, the rider is flung head-over-heels down the slope, with no way to stop the fall.

They say visitors are routinely warned not to go there, after serious accidents in the past.

Hokianga tourism operator Shane Lloyd says sand-surfing in the dunes is one of the most popular tourist activities in Hokianga, and as long as people heed local knowledge and advice, it is a safe sport.

Mr Lloyd says the community is distressed by Mr Donaldson's death.