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About the Site and the Government Safety Review

About this site

In 2009 the Government led a review into safety in the commercial outdoor and adventure sector. During the review, operators said that they would value a centrally-located, credible source of safety guidance to support their efforts during start-up and ongoing reviews of their safety management systems – something akin to a one-stop-shop for help on safety matters.This resulted in the development of the SupportAdventure website and it's guidance material.

'Supportadventure' is endorsed and funded by central government, but derived from the hundreds of operators who shared their experience during its development. Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) led this project, with the support of Outdoors NZ (which is now integrated into NZRA), and took responsibility for gathering, sorting and presenting the resulting guidance material via the 'supportadventure' website.

Twenty-four workshops, over 300 operators and a range of national organisations drove the topics and safety management system guidance which you now see, but this represents a beginning, not an end. Safety management is increasingly acknowledged as an art not a science, as a result the guidance on this site must be continually assessed in light of new thinking and learnings – your ongoing advice and support for this process will be critical.

How you use the guidance will depend on the stage, scale and complexity of your operation, but we sincerely hope it prompts you to challenge the status quo and perhaps find ways to strengthen your own safety management.

Site management and content development 

The site's content managment and development is governed by a set of principles. These principles were developed with public  consultation and trialled for a six month period before being adopted in April 2014.

  • To read the site management and content development principles click here

The Activity Safety Guidelines (ASG's) hosted on the site are developed following a process driven by activity specific  technical experts.

  • To see the ASG development and review processes and principles click here  

Where it began – some reflections on the safety review

Those who deliver adventure and outdoor activities are linked by the common belief that experiences which challenge and extend personal boundaries have an immeasurable value to individuals and ultimately society. TIA and Outdoors NZ firmly believe that adventure experiences must be protected and we promoted this thinking throughout the review into adventure safety, together with a range of other principles:

  • Every operator wants to avoid incidents and accidents
  • The primary responsibility for safety and quality lies with the operator
  • A national support structure should be comprehensive and weighted towards providing support, guidance and tools
  • Operators with well embedded safety systems should not face significant additional requirements and costs
  • Innovation should still be enabled
  • The review presented an opportunity to be better than before

TIA and NZRA regard the review recommendations as crucial to securing New Zealand's adventure tourism reputation and ensuring a positive future for the wide range of adventure and outdoor activities that are a core part of our brand and of New Zealander's recreation experience.

Looking ahead

The time is right for a more unified and aligned approach to safety management – nationally, within activity groups and by each operator. The process of developing and reviewing 'supportadventure' and the guidance itself is just one step towards achieving that goal.

It's critical that 'adventure' remains in adventure tourism and outdoor commercial activities, but lets also be confident that unique, personalised experiences are being delivered within a strong safety framework that meets our 'duty of care' responsibilities. To accept anything less will leave us and our customers vulnerable and exposed.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa and NZ Recreation Association

Tourism Industry Aotearoa

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) is the lead association that directly represents the interests of about 1,700 member tourism businesses in New Zealand. It was established in 1955 and the businesses TIA represents cover a range of tourism-related activities including hospitality, transport, accommodation, adventure and activities, attractions and retail, as well as related tourism services.

The primary role of TIA is to be the voice of the tourism industry.  This includes working for members on advocacy, policy, communication, events and business services.  TIA works very closely with a range of other tourism related organisations and associations.

New Zealand Recreation Association

The New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) champions high quality recreation for the benefit of New Zealand. It is the lead organisation for the outdoor recreation sector, and works at an agency, industry and professional level to build capability, develop partnerships, and equip individuals and organisations with the skills they need to deliver high quality recreation experiences that engage participants. NZRA’s vision is that in 2020 New Zealand has a strong recreation industry that meets the needs of current and future participants, so that through recreation, New Zealanders are active, healthy, and connected.

The Government Safety Review

This website is a direct result of recommendations made out of the Government review of risk management and safety in the adventure and outdoor commercial sectors.

The Prime Minister announced the review in September 2009. The review looked at the existing regulations, safety systems and processes in the sector, and at any ways of improving risk management and safety.The Department of Labour led this work, on behalf of the Minister of Labour, in consultation with key agencies and industry organisations.

  • To read the full information on the Review click here

This section contains a summary of key points on the following topics:


The following have been determined to be within or outside of the scope of the review:

Within scope; where an adventure or outdoor commercial service is being sold or provided

Outside scope; activities not paid for (non-commercial) / purely recreational.


For the purposes of the review, ‘adventure and outdoor commercial sectors’ has been defined as meaning all recreational-type activities offered on a fee-for-service basis that carry heightened inherent risks that must be managed.


In June 2010 the Department of Labour released the Review of Risk Management and Safety in the Adventure and Outdoor Commercial Sectors in NZ final report. In the report the review team recognised that many operators are already operating to high standards, with a strong culture of safety. The review team also identified  a number of areas where change could improve safety. They recommended that the government adopts a package of measures comprising a mix of regulatory requirements, industry initiatives and systems improvements.

For the reviews final report and supporting documents click here

The systems improvements are represented in six key recommendations and supported by a set of Industry Safety Principles.

Six key recommendations:

  1. That new regulations be developed under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, making it an offence to provide activities involving significant hazards and some level of instruction or leadership without a current safety audit certificate.
  2. That an industry-led entity be developed to strengthen the safety management framework for the adventure tourism and outdoor commercial sector
  3. That a generic practice guide be developed for the adventure tourism and outdoor commercial sector (other than for adventure aviation activities, commercial jet boating and rafting)
  4. That additional guidance be developed to better inform operators about their current responsibilities, particularly activity specific guidance
  5. That a method be developed to ensure that better and more consistent information on the adventure tourism and outdoor commercial sector is collected, and that its collation is improved
  6. That an investigation be carried out into what the appropriate levels and measures of competency are for adventure and outdoor commercial sector instructors and guides

Industry Safety Principles:

As part of the review, operators and organisations were asked what they believed were the main principles that underpinned safety. The outcomes from this and wider review discussions, resulted in a set of industry safety principles:

Operators have a positive safety culture driven by committed leaders

A positive safety culture: the first principle upon which all others are founded, it is characterised by an overt commitment to safety at every level of an organisation. It relies on leaders promoting and adhering to good safety practices e.g. leading by example, consistently.

Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.

Operators have a safety management system (SMS) relevant to their operation

Safety management system: a coordinated and comprehensive set of processes specifically designed to optimise safety performance.  An SMS addresses safety across all aspects of the organisation and includes provisions for recruitment, training, safe communication, well documented standard operating procedures, internal and external assessment programmes, safety reporting, incident reporting, and emergency action plans.  An SMS addresses the potential for both systemic weaknesses and active failures.

Operators have an external assessment before commencing operations

Initial external assessment: an assessment by an independent third party appropriately qualified to assess and approve the type of activity being undertaken.

Its primary function is to assess the SMS and provide operators with advice and support i.e. is the SMS comprehensive, workable and tailored correctly for that activity?  It includes a site visit.

Operations have ongoing external assessments

Ongoing external assessments: primarily for verifying compliance with approved standards, procedures and/or national standards where available.  As with the 'initial' audit, they assess the relevancy and effectiveness of the SMS and provide advice and support to operators.  They also include a site visit.

Operators have competent staff

Staff competency: organisations ensure staff have appropriate experience supported by relevant training and/or qualifications.  Induction training is followed by ongoing training at a frequency and depth that is consistent with the nature of the activity.  The correct balance of experienced to less-experienced staff is consciously managed. 

Operators communicate risks and responsibilities

Risk and safety information to clients: prior to undertaking the activity, clients are provided with appropriate risk and safety information in a form and depth that is tailored for the activity, but addresses cross-cultural communication barriers.  Client information can be delivered in writing, verbally, pictorially or via a combination of mediums. 

Operators have well maintained equipment that is fit for purpose

Well maintained, fit for purpose equipment: equipment and/or infrastructure is subject to regular review under the SMS framework.  It is maintained or replaced at intervals that ensure it remains fit for purpose and suitable for commercial delivery of the activity.

Operators share safety information

Exchange of safety information: organisations make a conscious and formalised effort to share safety information (including lessons learned) with others while externally seeking information that may strengthen their own safety provisions.  Commercial interests are pushed aside in the interests of achieving better safety outcomes through shared learning.


The government’s implementation strategy includes involving industry representative organisations to assist with the development and delivery of this package of measures.

TIA has a contract with WorkSafe New Zealand for the delivery of four of the key recommendations.


WorkSafe has a responsibility for the implementation of recommendation 1, with recommendation 2  still to be allocated by the department.

TIA has been contracted to implement recommendations 3 and 4, while Outdoors New Zealand were contracted to implement recommendations 5 and 6. Each Association has a contractual responsibility to support the other assocaition with implementing these recommendations.

Project Summaries

Regular updates on the projects associated with the implementation of the recommendations will be provided via the SupportAdventure newsletter. To receive the newsletter sign up here.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa

3. That a generic practice guide be developed for the adventure tourism and outdoor commercial sector (other than for adventure aviation activities, commercial jet boating and rafting)

The Generic Practice Guide has taken the form of the Support Adventure website. The content of this website has been developed via an extremely consultative process involving hundreds of operators and experts in safety in adventure and outdoor activities.

4. That additional guidance be developed to better inform operators about their current responsibilities, particularly activity specific guidance

The activity specific guidance is being implemented by establishing Activity Safety Guidelines ( ASGs) specific to each activity group. The ASGs contain practical recommendations for good practice on managing safety. The content will be determined by industry experts. There is a review process to ensure that guidelines remain current. 

For more information on the ASGs and to view those currently available, go to the Activity Safety Guideline page of this website.

Outdoors New Zealand (now integrated into NZRA)

5. That a method be developed to ensure that better and more consistent information on the adventure tourism sector is collected, and that its collation is improved.

An investigation into sector interest, engagement and concerns about a sector wide incident reporting system is being carried out. This will involve research into curent incident data sets, consultation around proposed approaches and investigation to identify the gap between the current proposals and the sectors requirements. The output will be a report with recommendations for the Department of Labour.

6. That an investigation be carried out into what the appropriate levels and measures of competency are for adventure and outdoor commercial sector instructors and guides.

A scoping exercise has been initiated to identify the key areas for investigation into what the appropriate levels and measures of competency are for adventure and outdoor commercial sector instructors and guides. The output from the scoping project will be a report for the department of labour that recommends the investigation approach and quantifies the resource required to complete it.

The scoping investigation report is completed and with the Department of Labour .(July 2012). You can read the full report here. There is no more work currently underway on this project.

More Information

For more information on the review, its recommendations and their implementation contact any of the following:

Tourism Industry Aotearoa
NZ Recreation Association
WorkSafe New Zealand