The growth of adventure tourism in New Zealand has contributed to its image as an activity destination, reflected in the growth of the adventure tourism sector since 1992. There has also been a growing concern over the safety and management of these activities within the New Zealand government and tourism industry. This paper examines the changing legal framework for tourism in New Zealand, where the no-fault accident compensation legislation no longer covers all tourist accidents and injuries within its scheme. The paper reviews both the accident compensation legislation, recent legal precedents as evidenced in court cases and judgements which challenge the perception that no-faults compensation covers all accident eventualities. The consequences for adventure tourism operators in relation to tourist accidents and injuries is discussed and implications for health and safety are highlighted. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.