Queenstown adventure tourism stalwart killed in road accident


Queenstown’s adventure tourism community is reeling following the death of one of AJ Hackett Bungy longest-serving staff.
The firm’s group logistic manager Tony Middendorf, a 49-year-old father of three, was killed on Saturday afternoon when his motorcycle collided head-on with a van on the Crown Range Rd, the Otago Daily Times reports. 

Middendorf was travelling towards Wanaka as part of a motorcycle rally when the accident occurred about 5km below the Crown Range summit.

Senior constable Bruce McLean, of Wanaka, says a female doctor visiting the area was on the scene within minutes of the crash and provided medical assistance to Middendorf, but was unable to save him.

A statement released by Middendorf’s wife, Judith, and daughters Charlotte, Korrie and Whitney to the Otago Daily Times yesterday says he had lived his life ”to the full”.

”He especially loved Queenstown and the outdoor activities in the region. He was loved, respected and admired by his extended family and by many in the community.

”Family was a top priority for Tony … We miss him dreadfully.”

AJ Hackett Bungy co-founder and director Henry van Asch says staff were informed of Middendorf’s death yesterday morning and were ”distraught”.

Operations were suspended for a time yesterday. 

Van Asch describes Middendorf as ”an absolutely fantastic guy” who was ”loyal, trusted, respected and loved”.

”He was just a huge part of the organisation.”

Middendorf, who would have celebrated his 20th anniversary with the company in February, was born and raised in Queenstown and initially employed as a mechanic and boat driver. He worked his way through the ranks, eventually training jump masters and overseeing operations for all of the company’s Queenstown sites.

”He’s just a guy who always surprised me with his resilience and passion to achieve and adapt,” Van Asch says.

”He [was] one of the most core parts, one of the most key people in the team. As far as the management team goes, they’re all devastated.”

On a personal level, Van Asch says Middendorf was down-to-earth and humble with a fantastic sense of humour, who had long loved motorcycles and was an experienced rider.

”He loved Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin … he normally wore a Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin T-shirt to work.

”[He] loved skiing, mountain biking; loved his engines, whether they were in boats, cars or bikes.

”He was always very proud of his current mullet [and] at the bungy parties he was always the life of the party, dressing up in whatever … he could get his hands on.

”He’s going to leave a huge gap … I’m going to miss him as one of my most trusted, long-serving deputies.” 

Van Asch says the company was offering the family support.

Police inquiries are continuing and senior constable McLean says the fatal crash closed the road for about two hours, diverting traffic via State Highway 6, past Cromwell. – Otago Daily Times