New Zealand Health Information Service (NZHIS) morbidity data for the 15-year period, 1982-1996, were analysed to determine the role of recreational and adventure tourism in overseas visitor injuries, and identify recreational activities with greatest injury occurrence. Approximately 19 per cent of all injuries involved recreational/adventure tourism activities, corresponding to 8.4 injuries per 100,000 overseas visitor arrivals. This figure can be compared to that for motor vehicle traffic accidents (12), and suggests a significant recreational tourism injury problem in New Zealand. Injuries were concentrated in regions known to be major centres for adventure tourism in New Zealand, and were most commonly sustained by overseas visitors aged between 20 and 40 years. Tourist injuries were observed most frequently for activities that involve independent, unguided recreation, notably skiing, mountaineering and tramping. Of the commercial adventure tourism activities, horse riding and cycling were the only significant contributors to overseas visitor injuries. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.