Speed diver injured in mishap

A recreational speed diver is in Dunedin Hospital awaiting surgery for suspected spinal injuries after a jump from a cliff near Kelvin Heights in Queenstown on Tuesday night.

The 30-year-old man had finished work for the day at NZONE Skydive before meeting up with four of his speed diving friends for the evening. It has not been confirmed whether the other three are employed by NZONE.

Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown, said the 30-year-old was the first of the four to jump and when his parachute become twisted he fell, landing at Jardine Park, between Kelvin Heights and Jacks Point Golf course, about 9.15pm.

St John operations team manager Kelvin Perriman said the man had moderate spinal injuries and needed to be assessed at Dunedin.

NZONE business development manager Derek Melnick confirmed the man was an employee of the company. He stressed the speed jumping was a recreational sport and was ''completely unrelated'' to skydiving or any other NZONE activities.

Speed skydiving is a type of skydiving in which the goal is to achieve and maintain the highest possible terminal velocity while the flyer gets as close to the ground as possible.

Flyers do not use moving aircraft and usually jump off a cliff to get the height needed.

It was developed in the last few years and has been described as the world's fastest non-motorised sport.