Car rental companies and airlines could do more to advise
tourists about driving in New Zealand, and Kiwis could also
show more appreciation behind the wheel, a visiting American
But they add that visitors should educate themselves before
they take to the road and exercise caution when driving.
Texans Kyle Anderson and his wife Jacqueline said the locals
were generally good drivers, the roads and signage were great
and keeping left probably isn't as hard as you'd think.
The New Zealand Herald caught up with the Andersons at
Waitomo close to the intersection of SH3 and SH36 - one of
the Waikato's most notorious black spots - where two
Americans died in separate vehicle accidents in 2012.
The Andersons arrived after a horrific few days on New
Zealand roads, in which four Kiwis were killed in two
accidents involving visiting drivers on May 30 near Whitianga
and the following day at Rakaia.
Mr Anderson, a 27-year-old emergency medical technician with
the Fire Service in Austin, said he couldn't recall seeing
any literature about driving in New Zealand on his flight but
was forewarned by a Kiwi travel agent who booked their
tickets for them.
He said the rental car company Thrifty also did not give them
a briefing about driving in New Zealand before he hired a
Toyota Camry at Auckland International Airport.
"They didn't tell us to drive on the left side even after
they took our drivers' licence and they knew we were from the
United States," he said.
The Andersons think car rental firms should be legally
required to do this and believe rental cars should at least
have stickers on the dashboard or steering wheel warning
drivers to keep left.
A Thrifty New Zealand spokeswoman said the firm "encouraged
international visitors to familiarise themselves with New
Zealand road rules and key differences about driving in New
Zealand prior to travelling to New Zealand".
She said there were information brochures available at hire
kiosks and on the company's website.
Mr Anderson said the road signage was excellent and road
conditions were also very good, even for someone who comes
from a state where six-lane, one-way freeways were the norm.
He said people in the US generally drove in much larger
vehicles and at higher speeds (Austin's speed limit is 70mph,
or 112km/h) but New Zealanders, from what he had seen, were
"Most people here stick to the speed limit but I think people
could give a wave and a smile every now and then."
He said roundabouts were confusing as there were few in the
Tim Alpe, chief executive of Jucy Rentals, said overseas
customers were given a verbal briefing about road rules and
information in a pamphlet.
Go Rentals general manager James Dalglish said all drivers
were supplied with a Transport Agency resource explaining
driving in New Zealand.