Seasonal advice on overseas drivers

Courtesy and patience go a long way when dealing with overseas motorists on Southern Lakes roads, Destination Queenstown, the police and the Queenstown Lakes District Council say.

All three organisations yesterday urged residents intending to use the roads to take extra care as the peak summer season arrives.

''Our season has begun so we're seeing more tour buses around town and on the main highways as well as national and international holidaymakers in camper vans and rental cars,'' Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said.

''We're asking our local community to please be patient and courteous with these drivers - they're unfamiliar with our roads and our international visitors are getting to grips with driving in a foreign country so they need time and space to adjust.''

Senior Sergeant John Fookes asked motorists and pedestrians to be more vigilant.

''Please be extra cautious and drive smart - allow plenty of time to get to your destination, watch your speed and following distances, and scan ahead for potential hazards,'' Snr Sgt Fookes said.

''It's very easy for visitors to get distracted by our beautiful scenery so we urge our local drivers and pedestrians to take the initiative and give them plenty of room.''

There was a recognition overseas drivers presented occasional challenges of their own, he said.

''Some are relatively inexperienced drivers. Some are inexperienced on the type of roads they sometimes need to drive on here and a proportion are used to driving on the right.

''Travel time is worth a bit of thought before starting a journey because often you wind up with unexpected stops of interest from a tourist point of view. Available time in the day gets shorter and people then get impatient and start speeding.''

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said central business districts, state highways and scenic drives such as the road to Glenorchy were hotspots for travellers.

''We're coming into a very busy time when lots of Kiwis and international visitors will be here and we want to keep everyone safe,'' the mayor said.

''Please treat our guests as you would like to be treated elsewhere - with friendliness, patience and courtesy.''

Overseas drivers have a poor reputation in Queenstown, with their frequent failure to indicate, slow driving in the 70kmh zoned Frankton Rd, disregard for pedestrian crossings, driving in the wrong lane and paying more attention to their dashboard-mounted satellite navigation display than the road, as well as many appearing in the Queenstown District Court for drink-driving and speeding offences.