A history of avalanche accidents in Aotearoa New Zealand


This paper is based on a study for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council which investigated the circumstances contributing to the deaths of 128 people in avalanches between 1863 and 1999. The study identified a trend of high fatalities during European settlement followed by a lull in fatalities early last century and then an increase in recent decades similar to other recently colonized countries. Similar to other studies, most victims were in their twenties and shift from work-to recreation-based activities has occurred from a century ago to recent times. Comparison with other studies of more specific activities involved in recent decades showed that alpine climbing, people on training courses and in area skiers and patrollers were over-represented while out of area ski/boarders and snowmobilers were under-represented. The geographic distribution of fatalities is concentrated in the South Island reflecting the preponderance of terrain for climbing and skiing.


Irwin, D., Owens, I.




Conference Contribution - Full Conference paper


Irwin, D. & Owens, I. (2004). A history of avalanche accidents in Aotearoa New Zealand. Presented at the International Snow Science Workshop 2004, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA.

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