Last Updated on June 10, 2023

A tourist from South Korea was killed in an accident at Te Paki Sand Dunes, in New Zealand’s Northland region. On February 4th, 2019, Jin Chang Oh was sliding down the dunes on a sandboard when tragically hit by a tour bus and killed in front of his family.

The company Far North Tourism, who operated the Sand Safaris tour bus involved in the accident, has been accused to have provided inadequate risk reduction and safety measures which ultimately led to the death of the 68-year-old man.

Tourists Sandboarding at Giant Sand Dunes of Te Paki
The Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes in Cape Reinga are a popular tourist destination for sandboarding.

Two years earlier, a similar accident had occured when a boy was also hit by a vehicle while descending the dunes in Cape Reinga. No signs, barriers, or any form of traffic control measure were set up by the company at the dunes, which are one of the most popular sand boarding locations in the country.

Sand Safari, who pleaded not guilty of the charge, claims that the victim and his family were provided instructions on how to slow the board down and telling observers at the bottom of the dune to keep an eye for incoming vehicles and ask them to stop if needed.

The instructions came from Daniel Beazley, who claims Oh ignored his warning not to slide down one side of the dune. According to his report, Beazley was busy helping a young girl set up her equipment, when he told Oh to go to a different area and wait for him.

Some of the tourists, he says, do not have a complete grasp of the English language but would “smile and nod”, suggesting perhaps Oh misunderstood his instructions.

Oh’s accident is not the first case of a sandboarding-related death in New Zealand. In 2009, 24-year old Thomas Donaldson, a tourist from England, succumbed from severe head injuries after falling from his board when descending from a dune locally known as “Suicide Hill”, in Hokianga.

The sandboarding area on the hill was designated by flags and all sandboarders were instructed to only descend between those flags, but Donaldson ignored the warnings and descended from a different area.

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