Ruapehu... Ah, yes....
I worked on that hill for 11 seasons. The snow conditions can range from phenomenal to the worst your imagination can conjure, plus some! In a marginal season, with poor quality snow, the grooming is limited to perhaps a cat track wide on most "trails", possibly a bit more. In a good season (they do occur once in a while) the slopes can be as wide open as anywhere. [img]smile.gif[/img]
As it is a live volcano, the rocks are not to be believed. Sharp, and indestructible, they seem to reach out and grab skiers/ boarders on a regular basis.
This combination, combined with the ruggedness of the terrain lends itself to a great many people compressed into an incredibly small area. Collisions are a "normal" occurrence, though I agree with PM, not inevitable. We used to joke about how our uniforms were so bright so that out of control skiers could see us and aim at us to slow them down!
During my tenure there, an average of five (5) skiers died per season. Hitting rocks, falling off cliffs, collisions with others, in-bounds avalanches, etc. One even died from being struck on the head by a giant icicle hanging from the top lift terminal!
It does sound as if this particular family had a streak of truly unfortunate luck.
But the prevalent attitude in NZ for longer than I've been associated with that area has been- "She'll be right, no worries". No right to sue, either the areas or the individuals.
Now, in some regards, I really respect that. But it seems to have gotten to a point where the areas have been absolved of any responsibility to their guests. "Come spend your money and your time, but if something negative happens, here's 20 cents, go call someone who cares"
There will be no legal recourse in this case. As long as the government offers nationalized medicine (which is pretty poor, speaking from personal experience), then no one is allowed to sue for either medical damages or civil penalties.
Will we ever find the mid-ground of these two extremes?