Latest news


Meet the auditor

 Peter Cammell

pete cammell guiding nz ag16.jpeg


In 2010, a tragic death occurred on an instruction course. As president of the New Zealand Alpine Club at the time, Peter Cammell committed to finding out the causes of the death to ensure it didn’t happen again.

During this learning process, he discovered that by being a qualified person, you give yourself a better chance. So, over the course of eight years he put in the effort to become a fully-qualified rock and alpine instructor and guide.

When he’s not climbing Mount Everest, or working as a guide in Antarctica, Peter packs a lot of activity into his time in New Zealand. He works and volunteers as a rock and alpine instructor, helps out with the Alpine Club, and on top of this mountain of commitments, works fulltime as an OutdoorsMark auditor, technical expert, and outdoor recreation consultant.

He joined the auditing team four years ago, and says he is “probably the old man auditor” for OutdoorsMark now, as he has been there since the manadatory audit requirement started, and has been involved with the training of other auditors.

Peter is committed to the safety of those engaging with the outdoors, and has the background and passion that makes auditing a natural fit for him.

“My pharmaceutical background means I am very methodical and systematic in the way I approach things. And from my mountaineering background, I know I’m very lucky to still be alive, because I have had a lot of near misses…but I know a lot of people who aren’t here.”

Peter has been climbing mountains on every continent for 43 years, and recognises that the outdoors, and especially mountains, can be extremely high-risk environments. Therefore, he sees the role of an auditor as crucial for ensuring peoples’ safety.

He says an incident occurs in any outdoor operation, when the person in charge of the activity at the time makes a mistake. To minimise this risk, Peter’s auditing philosophy is to build from the bottom up, and also build from the top down.

“The owner of the operation needs to have a commitment to safe practice, and that culture needs to radiate right down from the top” Peter says. “So, you’ve got

bottom up, top down. The detail sits in the sandwich, but you need those two elements in place around the culture of no shortcuts, and to expect failures – because then if you do get failures in your system, they are caught before they become incidents.”

Based in Auckland, Peter is currently working seven days a week for OutdoorsMark, carrying outaudits all around the country.

He thoroughly enjoys working through the process with the operators, and says he takes pride in delivering a supportive and professional service.

“A lot of outdoor operators – their strength is not paperwork. They went into the outdoors because they like that tactile engagement with the environment and people. And what we’re all learning, is that you actually need solid paperwork processes to support what you do in the field. So, that’s been the biggest learning for people, so I really just try to be supportive for them as I knock their documents into shape to satisfy the audit standards.”

Peter says there is nothing better than turning up for an audit, where the operation is prepared. That means referencing all pages, preparing documentation, having clean documents (separating the SMS from the SOPs), and maintaining a simple but effective record-keeping process.

He says although there are a lot of processes, an effective way to manage is to keep checklists, so you can check off the tasks you need to do regarding dealing with all types of incidents.

Peter’s best advice is to start early, and to pre-engage with an auditing consultant who is not your auditor in order to increase efficiency.

“They can go through your documents and processes and ask you some hard questions, because that will save me having to go through your documentation, trying to find stuff that isn’t there.”

Peter is committed to his auditing work, and says he is in this job because he wants to make a difference in regard to safe practice in the outdoors environment.

"Accidents don’t happen without people. People are the problem in the natural environment, and they are also the opportunity. If you have the right attitude, and you keep your eyes and ears open, you will give yourself the best chance – and that’s all I want."



Dave's top tips for a successful re-certification



With re-certification looming, here are some tips from Dave, our audit coordinator, that will assist you to be as prepared as possible. Being prepared will help keep time and costs down.

Start planning now

Read through your original audit report and check you have the evidence required. Take note of any suggestions included in the report from your auditor as these may be helpful for preparation.

Be familiar with your SMS

Make sure you and your staff are familiar with your SMS and are implementing it correctly. It’s important that staff know the timeframes and processes included in the SMS.

Keep up with changes

There have been changes to the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016. Your SMS will need to reflect these changes, and you will also need to show implementation. The sooner you have updated your SMS, the more evidence you will have of “implementation”.

Manage your finances

Check your budget. We know this is a large expense, so make sure you have allocated funding. If you are concerned about the cost let us know; we are able to make arrangements for staggered payments if necessary.

Be realistic

Be realistic about the time this will take to prepare. This is no small undertaking and it will take time to get everything ready. Start by allocating time in your staff meetings or office time to review the SMS, and preparing the evidence that demonstrates your safety systems.

Check what's covered

If your operation has changed over the three years since your initial audit, check to see if your activities are now covered under the regulations. Calling WorkSafe (0800 030 040) can help clarify what is covered.


Schedule in any technical advisor sessions, both internally with reviews, and externally with staff training, competency and scenario training.

Schedule any external maintenance checks. This could be engineer’s reports for instance, or an arborist for tree-based activities.

You will be contacted by OutdoorsMark during the development of the estimates for your audit. Take the time to talk us through your operation and ask any questions you have. This is when we determine the most compatible audit staff for your operation, so it’s important we know as much as possible about you.



What does a “day job” look like in outdoor recreation?

Many people go to work each day dreaming of the weekend, when they can get out and do things they love, like mountain biking, walking, climbing or kayaking.

Outdoor recreation professionals get paid to be experts in the activities they are passionate about, and share that passion with others.
But what does such a job actually look like, you ask?

Well, lots of things! Read on for some examples of outdoor recreation careers, from some of the smart, highly-qualified outdoor people that we work with at Skills Active…

It can mean following your passion, like Greg McIntyre

Greg McIntyre owns Fat Tyre Adventures, a mountain bike guiding company in Otago. Fifteen years ago he was running a successful café, and spent his weekends riding around the high country of Central Otago, with the permission of the local farmers.

Then he started wondering if he could make a viable business out of mountain biking. 

"My accountant said, 'Don’t do it, it’s ridiculous.'  And maybe he was right – but I haven’t got an accountant’s brain. You have to live life, and if you can do something that‘s fun and exciting, so much the better. "Numbers don’t tick my boxes. Being outside riding my bike in the mountains, that ticks my boxes.”

From a small start with just his Land Rover and a few bikes, Greg now has three guides and offers a range of single and multi-day rides, including helicopter trips to the best bike trails.


It can mean working with young people as they learn and grow, like Shirlene Spencer

Shirlene Spencer is a camp administrator at Teapot Valley Christian Camp in Nelson. (She’s also the Skills Active 2016 Apprentice of the Year!) Shirlene keeps things running smoothly at the camp, and helps to look after the interns who lead camp activities. 

Shirlene previously worked in swim education and she loves helping people to expand their boundaries.

“You do see how sedentary some kids can be, so it’s exciting when you see them exploring new things. Here it’s doing the camp activities, at the Aquatic Centre it was learning to swim, and water safety – seeing them stretch outside their comfort zone.

“It’s watching kids going down an abseiling tower and knowing that you’re part of the process that brought them to camp and got them into a programme that is going to extend them and make them grow.” 


It can mean helping people run safe and successful businesses, like David Mangnall

David Mangnall is an adventure activities auditor for OutdoorsMark. He has had a wide-ranging career in outdoor recreation, teaching outdoor education, guiding and instructing many different activities, leading Outward Bound courses, and more. These days he audits adventure businesses to make sure they are meeting the standards under New Zealand’s health and safety legislation. 

Being an auditor involves working closely with companies to help them understand the requirements, and improve their policies and practices where needed.
“It’s a privilege to get a real inside look at people’s businesses. 

And you are there to help people. Business owners have a whole lot of compliance stuff to think about, and as auditors we need to make sure they are doing the right things, but we also need to make it easy for them to get it right.
"So I’m always looking for ways I can bring in something new – a different perspective on things.”


It can mean enjoying travel, variety and freedom, like Jamie Obern

Jamie Obern owns Tech Dive NZ, a specialist technical dive school. Jamie has been a diving instructor in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Croatia and Fiji, he has run marine science projects, owned his own dive shop, and now he teaches advanced diving including decompression courses and diving in caves and wrecks, as well as being a dive industry auditor.

Travelling and working as a dive expert is awesome, says Jamie, who still goes overseas for projects.
“When you dive in different countries, not only is it exciting, but you also pick up new ideas and methodologies.”
People think of diving as one activity, Jamie says, when in fact there are multiple specialist areas. “So it’s important to try out different niches and figure out what you enjoy most.”

Being an outdoor professional can mean many things, and this fun, exciting industry draws on an almost endless range of skills and abilities, allowing people to shine in all sorts of different roles.

For more information about our on-job qualifications in outdoor recreation, contact your local learning support advisor.



Start your certification early

Worksafe has stated that the time required to process documents in this busy period is at least ten days.

Therefore, we urge you to begin your process as early as possible, so you are not held up.

It is important that you get your certification registered prior to your anniversary date.



Gain international recognition

Your certification already reaches the highest safety standards within New Zealand and Australia - but what about the rest of the world?

OutdoorsMark are pleased to be able to offer certification to International Standard ISO 21101 Adventure Tourism – Safety Management Systems.

This certification is recognised worldwide, which is perfect if you are marketing to international visitors.

Having international safety recognition helps set you apart as a safe and exciting adventure.

The standard sets out the requirements of a safety management system that can be used by all types and sizes of providers, no matter the geographic, cultural and social environment.

As an Adventure Activity certified operator you are already very close to being compliant with ISO 21101 – there are only a couple of additional areas to cover.

If you would like to achieve this international certification, let us know prior to starting your audit so we can discuss this option with you.


EOTC audit promotion

We have joined forces with EONZ to develop two new audit products for schools who require safety assurance for educational activities they provide outside of the classroom.

The EOTC audits will ensure the safety of the school and its students during EOTC activities. The school’s safety management system will be audited to ensure it is suitable for the activities being undertaken, and meets the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

Tools to assist schools with EOTC activities have been developed by EONZ. These resources align with the audit requirements, and can be accessed here (appendix 4 and 5).

The audits reflect the best practice outlined in the EOTC Guidelines ‘Bringing the Curriculum Alive’. We realise that schools have unique safety systems, and we are here to provide guidance and confirmation that these systems are robust and workable.

The audits are:

EOTC Document Review

This is a full review of the safety management documentation to ensure it complies with the EOTC guidelines. It does not require a site visit as the documents will be sent to the auditor to complete the review. This is a less costly option and good for schools with lower risk activities or as a starting point for moving towards a full Outdoor Education Audit. EOTC Outdoor Education Audit

This includes the document review above and the sampling of activities and system implementation on site. The time taken for this can depend on the number and nature of the activities the school offers. This audit provides a thorough review of the EOTC requirements, providing confidence in the design and implementation of the programmes schools offer.

How do you know you’re ready for an audit?

It’s always difficult to know if you are ready for an audit, and it can be an expensive exercise if you are not able to achieve certification. We recognise this, so we have consultants who can assist in the preparation of your safety management system and provide guidance in what is required, prior to the audit. Consultants are a cheaper way of gaining this guidance than through an auditor. They will help ensure that you are prepared for the audit, and can save you time and money.

How can we help?

As these are new audit products, we are keen to ensure you are well prepared, and the audit is as transparent as possible. To assist with this, we will pay for three hours of our consultant’s time when you sign up to complete an EOTC audit. You will have access to one of our experienced auditors, as a consultant, for as long as you need, and QualWorx will deduct three hours of their time ($300) from the cost of your audit. This allows you to ensure you are prepared for the audit

prior to committing. When you start the audit, an auditor will be allocated to you and they will discuss the progress with the consultant to ensure they are fully aware of your safety management plans prior to starting the audit. If you decide not to continue with an audit at this stage that’s fine – you will still have gained some good advice at a cost that is less than entering into an audit.

If you would like to take advantage of this promotion or know more about how it can work for you please contact us now.


Learning from past incidents

The Cathedral Cove Dive Ltd Prosecution


None of us wants to have a serious accident. Neither do any of us want to be insensitive to those organisations who have had the misfortune to go through a serious accident and a prosecution by the authorities. However, we all have the responsibility to take whatever learning we can from other’s misfortune to inform our own safety management systems to improve our own organisation’s safety efforts and prevent similar tragedies. To this end, we intend to review pertinent incident reports or prosecution outcomes in our operator newsletters.

In this case study, we will highlight the judge’s recommendations following the successful prosecution of Cathedral Cove Dive Ltd. The judge’s recommendations are presented for you to reflect on in relation to your own SMS processes and implementation.


Summary of incident

On the 4th November 2014, Ms Su Li Hung was taking part in a PADI Discover Scuba Diving course with Cathedral Cove Diving Ltd. Ms Hung was a Taiwanese tourist taking part in the course with three family members. The family had come to New Zealand to visit their son who was a temporarily resident studying English. The son was part of the diving group and the only person in the group with any English speaking capability.

The group hired all their equipment from the defendants. They were given an initial briefing of approximately 45 minutes. They were then taken by the defendants to the dive site located on the western coastline of Maharangi Island just out from Hahei beach. The defendant’s boat was anchored in a small sheltered bay known as “Seal Bay” in two metres of water approximately ten metres from the shore.

There was further briefing about getting off and on the boat and other instructions after which the group members began entering the water individually. A Cathedral Cove Dive Ltd instructor accompanied Ms Hung for approximately 11 minutes around the bay. She was then left on her own while others in the group were instructed. While unsupervised, Ms Hung swam out of the bay through a small gap in the rocks and did not return to the dive site.

After a short period, the company personnel noted that Ms Hung was missing. Efforts were made to locate her, initially in the enclosed bay and then the wider area. Eventually emergency services were contacted as a result of which nearby Coastguard Search and Rescue vessels were deployed and the Police Eagle Helicopter engaged. Eventually Ms Hung was found floating face down in water 1.3km away from the dive site. Her air supply had been exhausted. Pathology confirmed drowning as the cause of death.

The incident occurred before the enactment of the new HSWA and thus prosecution was carried out under the old HSEA.


Cathedral Cove Dive Ltd pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Failure to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of an employee while at work harmed any person – s15 and s50(1)(a)
  • Failure to take all practicable steps to ensure that plant to be hired had been maintained so that it was safe for the known intended purpose – s18A(1) (b) and s50(1)(a)
  • Failure to take all practicable steps to ensure that every employee who dived in the course of that employee’s work was, at the time of diving, medically fit for diving – s50(1)(c) and regulation 49 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995.


The summary of the case revealed that Ms Hung was left unsupervised in the water while wearing scuba equipment and allowed to swim out of the enclosed bay area and exhaust her air supply. She drowned as a result of being unable to right herself in the water.

A lack of supervision was the primary cause of the fatality but there were additional contributing factors:

  • The issue of a buoyancy compensator device (BCD) that was too large with the consequence that it was more difficult for Ms Hung (a person with no dive training or experience) to lift her head out of the water from a face down position.
  • When it became apparent that Ms Hung was missing, the overall process to search for her and call emergency services was too slow.
  • The defendants did not provide emergency services with accurate coordinates of the dive site.

The company had been operating for many years and had used the particular dive site frequently with no previous difficulty.


Summary of failings

The judge summarised the failings in relation to the incident as:

  • Failure to conduct the dive briefing in a language that the participants could understand;
  • Failure to provide appropriately sized dive equipment (a BCD that was too large for Ms Hung);
  • Failure by the company to conduct the DSD in accordance with the applicable provisions of the company’s safety management plan including:


– No trip log communicated to the Coast Guard – Failure to ensure direct supervision provided to all participants while in the water wearing scuba gear – Failure to contact emergency services promptly and to provide accurate coordinates of the dive site.


The judge then identified a number of available practicable steps that could have been undertaken including:

  • Providing the briefing in a language the participants could understand or refusing to allow a dive
  • Carrying out a safety review test
  • Providing procedures to ensure participants with limited English understanding, understood the briefing and its requirements
  • Ensuring a documented dive safety log in place for each trip with appropriate coordinates and current weather and tide information
  • Confirming each trip with the Coast Guard
  • Providing high visibility dive equipment
  • Ensuring correctly fitting equipment
  • Providing appropriate direct supervision
  • For each of the charges listed above, there was a maximum penalty of $250,000 per charge. The judge awarded a fine of $66,000 and reparation to the victim’s family of $125,000.


Taking into account the ability of the defendants to pay (which was very limited), the fine was put aside in preference to reparation to the family. The defendant was ordered to pay a lump sum of $50,000 and a further $20,000 at a rate of $400 per month.

Some questions to ask yourself about your own SMS, in light of this incident:

  1. Have you identified the hazard of participants who don’t speak English? How do you manage this hazard?
  2. How do you ensure each participant has correctly fitting PPE (personal protective equipment)?
  3. Are your emergency management preparations comprehensive? Do you practice these?
  4. Are your supervision arrangements for participants appropriate for the risk?
  5. Do you check that staff are following all of your SMS policies and procedures?
  6. Another learning point for readers of this article is the place for an appropriate level of Statutory Liability Insurance. Statutory Liability Insurance covers your business and its employees against unintentional breaches of a large range of New Zealand legislation.

The HSE Act and its replacement, the HSW Act, prohibit insuring against fines imposed under the Act. However this still allows insurance to cover legal costs and any reparation payments ordered by the courts.

A minimum level of insurance cover would be $500,000 and any business should consider higher levels than this. We suggest you discuss this cover with your insurance company or insurance broker as part of a wider discussion in terms of a package of insurance for your business risks.



Meet the Auditor

Jamie Obern


I started scuba diving when I was sixteen. I’ve previously owned a dive shop, and run diving operations in a range of countries. Since 2009, I’ve run my own operation, Tech Dive New Zealand. I have an accounting and auditing background, and in 2014 I sat on the Activity

Safety Guidelines committee for diving. Some of the other operators approached me then and suggested I become an auditor.

At first, as an auditor, I noticed that some operators would just try to throw paperwork at the problem, without a very strong link between the paperwork and the actual practice. Over time, the good operators realised that used properly, paperwork contributes to better safety. And they’ve streamlined the process so they are no longer drowning in paperwork. I am an operator and I get audited too, so I know what it’s like. My advice for others is, please don’t get angry with your auditor. We are there to help you, and the process is so much smoother when a good relationship is in place. If you are new, or you don’t understand something, seek advice early on to get your processes right, and you’ll save a whole lot of time and money in the long run.


Meet the Auditor

 David Mangnall


David is one of OutdoorsMark’s auditors with scope to audit all activities covered by the Adventure Activities Regulations. He is also a technical expert in sea kayaking, ropes courses and zip lines, and he does some roving assessment and staff training as well. David has always been drawn to working in the outdoors but it was during his early career in education that he saw the immense potential of the outdoors as a space for learning. After getting his degree in recreation management from Lincoln University, he became an outdoor education teacher.

This led to a varied career with a range of outdoor organisations including OPC and Outward Bound, the latter of which he worked at for a total of about 13 years, in a few stints.

These days, David lives in Nelson with his wife and 12-year-old daughter. They make the most of the famously sunny weather and get out mountain biking and orienteering together, and in the winter they go skiing.

“Those are quite good activities to do as a family,” says David. “You are doing your own thing to an extent, but you’re together.”

After many years spent working with young people in the outdoors, David saw auditing as a natural progression.

“It’s a privilege to get a real inside look at people’s businesses. I always feel you’re not there to be a policeman, you’re there to help people with their business. So I’m always looking for ways I can bring in something new, a different perspective on things.

“Prior to this auditing role, I was the operations manager at an outdoor organisation, and there I was responsible for getting the organisation through two OutdoorsMark audits – one under the old ONZ umbrella, and the other when it changed hands to Skills Active.”

Having been in the “hot-seat” himself, David says he has a lot of empathy for operators.

“With all of this compliance stuff, of course we need to make sure they are doing things right. But rather than putting barriers in their way we are there to help them get it right.”