Thousands injured

An injured skier is transferred at the Kitchener St helipad in Dunedin on August 4. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
An injured skier is transferred at the Kitchener St helipad in Dunedin on August 4. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

Nearly 4000 snowsports injury claims have been lodged with ACC so far this winter, with the Queenstown Lakes district the top location for accidents.

Throughout June and July, there were 2020 skiing-related injury claims and 1702 involving snowboarders.

However, a delay in the lodgement of claims could mean the figures are higher.

The most common injuries have been sprains, strains or contusions, followed by fractures and dislocations, concussions, lacerations or puncture wounds.

Last year, about 13,000 people claimed for snowsports injuries through ACC, which paid out $18.5 million for the 2013 winter season.

ACC spokesperson Stephanie Melville said given seasonal variables such as weather, snowfall and operating days, it was not possible to identify how this season's claim numbers were tracking against previous years.

While ACC did not capture information to the level of detail which allowed for comparison of injury numbers by skifields, territorial authority statistics showed the highest number of injuries were in the Queenstown-Lakes district, followed by the Central Otago, Ruapehu, Ashburton and Auckland City districts.

Ms Melville said because ACC was a no-fault scheme, which replaced the right to sue for personal injury resulting from negligence, cover was provided to overseas visitors, too.

However, ACC covered only treatment and rehabilitation costs while an international visitor was in New Zealand and was not a replacement for travel insurance.

''It is generally regarded that the cost of providing ACC entitlements to visitors is likely to be much less than what it would cost the New Zealand taxpayer if visitors were able to sue for injuries here.

"In this sense, New Zealand is not being unreasonably impacted by paying for ACC cover for visitors.''

The overall percentage of ACC claims made by tourists was a ''very small proportion of the 1.7 million claims we get every year'', Ms Melville said.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz