Tourist dies minutes after starting mountain bike ride

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The British tourist who died while mountain biking was only a few minutes into his downhill excursion with Queenstown Bike Taxis.

Philip Ross Bergman, 26, collapsed shortly after 2pm yesterday (Monday) at Dirt Park – which operates as ski resort Snow Park in winter – in the Cardrona Valley.

Queenstown Bike Taxis owner Jono Head says he drove the man and a group of about 10 riders from Queenstown to the park.

“They’d been on their bikes for probably two or three minutes, stopped where two tracks join and walked 30-40m up the other track to have a look at a feature and then the young guy’s collapsed,” he says. 

Bergman’s friends performed CPR immediately and contacted emergency services as well as Head, who was driving down the mountain access road.

“The group that was with him did exceptionally well – everything that should have happened did happen.”

Detective sergeant Derek Shaw, from the Wanaka police, says Bergman came off his bike moments before the group stopped at an area known as the Rock Drop, where he collapsed.

“It was more of a light tumble than a major crash,” Shaw says.

“We suspect the fall was a result of the medical event rather than his death being a result of injuries by the fall.

“We don’t believe that it’s a suspicious death in any way. The final outcome will be determined by the coroner.”

Head, who regularly takes tours to Dirt Park, describes the terrain as steep, rocky and challenging.

“But the section that they were on was pretty easy going – it was the first run of the day so they would have been taking their time. It’s just a huge shock to have somebody collapse like that,” Head says.

“I’m happy to help out where I can and obviously thoughts are with the friends and family. If they need any form of assistance I’d be happy to help them out.”

Shaw says a Queenstown helicopter promptly flew to the area, and a paramedic on board pronounced Bergman dead at the scene.

Bergman had been living in North East Valley in Dunedin since travelling around New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. He’d taken a trip to Queenstown for the weekend with mates, Shaw says.

Bergman was born in Australia but spent most of his life in the United Kingdom. Family in Perth and Herefordshire have been notified.

A post mortem is being carried out today.