Holiday drivers well-behaved

Emergency services work to free two trapped occupants of a car which left the road on State Highway 1, south of Waihola, on Saturday afternoon. Fire communications shift manager Karl Patterson said firefighters freed two people trapped in the vehicle, neither of whom had serious injuries. A St John  spokeswoman said one of the occupants was taken to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Emergency services work to free two trapped occupants of a car which left the road on State Highway 1, south of Waihola, on Saturday afternoon. Fire communications shift manager Karl Patterson said firefighters freed two people trapped in the vehicle, neither of whom had serious injuries. A St John spokeswoman said one of the occupants was taken to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Motorists making their way to holiday hotspots throughout Otago over the weekend were generally well-behaved, police say.

No-one was injured when two cars crashed on Kawarau Rd, Frankton, on Saturday at 4pm.

An Indian man driving a rental car occupied by his family was driving towards Queenstown Airport when his inexperience with the gears caused the car to make a sudden stop in the middle of the road, Sergeant Steve Watt, of Queenstown, said on Sunday.

The following car, driven by a Glenorchy man, rear-ended the rental car. Police are waiting to speak to both parties before deciding the course of action, Sgt Watt said.

''Traffic volume has certainly increased around the Central Otago and Queenstown area compared to non-peak times. However, driver behaviour has been quite good.

''We've had few complaints about drivers and we'd encourage that good behaviour to continue, to reduce the road toll and ensure everyone has a happy Christmas with their families.''

A camper van and Toyota car collided at a Cromwell intersection on Saturday, but no-one was injured. While traffic volumes into Wanaka were not noticeably higher at the weekend, police in the area had been impressed with a ''major decline'' in average road speed.

''Town's starting to fill up but it's not the nose-to-tail stream that you see coming down Ardmore St,'' Constable Dion Phair said.

''We haven't really noticed a huge increase in numbers but it's been quite remarkable over the last few days how cruisy everyone's driving.

''They're all staying in the mid/high 90s [kmh]. There's [very few] going over 100.''

The few who were caught flouting the rules were generally driving well above the speed limit, around 115kmh or more.

''It's either all or nothing, but the majority's been really quiet.''

Const Phair was unsure if the slower driving trends were a result of a reduced speed tolerance of 4kmh in December and January being enforced by police nationwide, or ''whether it's just a change of mindset - it's hard to say''.

He expected this week to bring a big rise in holidaymakers arriving in Wanaka.

The ''large majority'' of about 400 campers at Glendhu Bay Lakeside Holiday Park, had arrived over the weekend, manager Chris Waddell said.

''We've had more prior to Christmas than last year and I guess it's just the way that Christmas falls this year.''

However, the holiday park's biggest arrival of guests would be on Boxing Day, and the day after, Mrs Waddell said.

At Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park, the Christmas holiday regulars had started to arrive over the weekend to set up camp, but the major influx - up to 300 young people - would occur in the days before New Year's Eve, manager Aggi Sanders said.

''I'm thinking that half the park will fill up around the 26th and 27th and then the other half will come in on the 29th. That's probably sort of the pattern.''

Traffic volumes in Central Otago were already increasing as the influx of holidaymakers began at the weekend, prompting several warnings from the head of the police Rural Drink Drive group.

Sergeant Bruce Martin, of Alexandra, reminded motorists to be patient, considerate and tolerant.

''The traffic is already getting heavier, so allow a little bit more time to get to your destination, and if you're towing a caravan or boat, and notice a build up of traffic behind you, show a bit of courtesy and try and pull over to let people past.''

It was disappointing to arrest four people at the weekend, in Wanaka, Alexandra and Clyde, for allegedly drink-driving, he said.

Those four people would appear in court in January to face drink-driving charges and two had also had their vehicles impounded as they had earlier been forbidden to drive.

''Drivers should be very conscious of the morning-after effect of alcohol - you might think after a big night out, you'll be all right to drive the next day after four or five hours' sleep, that you'd have sobered up, but that's not the case. Police will be waiting, at an early morning checkpoint, to catch those drivers.''

Traffic had increased noticeably in the Waitaki Valley over the weekend, particularly towing boats and caravans, Omarama Constable Nayland Smith said.

Despite that, no major problems nor crashes had been reported.