Dark tourism subject of NZ-made Netflix series - but can it go too far?

The phenomenon of dark tourism is the subject of a new Kiwi-made Netflix series. 

Touching a corpse, diving for cover in a warzone and chatting with Pablo Escobar's most trusted assassin might not quite your average holiday.

But for former TV3 reporter David Farrier, who famously explored the competitive world of endurance tickling in the documentary Tickled, it's similar to the odd worlds he's grown accustomed to.

His new series Dark Tourist explores the form of tourism amid a rise in people booking holidays with a dark side - but one expert is warning there's a fine line between respect and sensationalism. 

Tourism professor Michael Luck says dark tourism has actually been around a long time. 

"People always travel to certain dark sites for a number of reasons, but mostly to trace relatives," he said.

Visiting and paying respects at historical sites is seen as part of a Kiwi overseas experience. 

Visits to Auschwitz in Poland have now passed 1.7 million people per year, while Ground Zero recorded 4.5 million visitors in its first year and even Chernobyl in the Ukraine has seen visitor numbers increase sixfold since 2012. 

But can it be taken too far?

Mr Luck says if you touch a dead body, that is crossing the line - and nothing to do with tourism.

And the rise in social media could also be a factor. 

London's Grenfell Tower where 72 people died is now a tourist hotspot, where locals are trying to stop people constantly taking selfies, Mr Luck says.

"It really does not match with entertainment, and I think that's not necessarily a good thing - especially not if it comes to things like social media hits."

Closer to home, the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior and post-earthquake Christchurch have all been suggested as dark tourism hotspots. 

And David Farrier at least sees an upside. 

"I've been forced out of my comfort zone, and somehow it's made me feel more happy to be alive," he says.

Dark Tourist will be available on Netflix from Friday.