Initiative on Chinese driver safety

Queenstown Lakes district councillor Lex Perkins and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden discuss further opportunities for co-operation between Queenstown and China with vice-consul-general Li Xin (second from right) and consul Hu Aimin, both of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Christchurch, at the council headquarters yesterday. Photo by James Beech.
Queenstown Lakes district councillor Lex Perkins and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden discuss further opportunities for co-operation between Queenstown and China with vice-consul-general Li Xin (second from right) and consul Hu Aimin, both of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Christchurch, at the council headquarters yesterday. Photo by James Beech.
Chinese drivers will be advised of New Zealand's driving code and conditions when collecting rental vehicles from airports in a bid to curb crashes on South Island roads, a senior Chinese official says.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden and Cr Lex Perkins, of Arrowtown, welcomed vice-consul-general Li Xin and consul Hu Aimin, of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Christchurch, at the council's headquarters yesterday.

Mr Xin also met Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown, and Queenstown Airport Corp chief executive Scott Paterson as part of his familiarisation with the resort this week.

Mr Xin told the Otago Daily Times after his meeting yesterday he was aware the number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand was ''increasing very rapidly'' and ''Queenstown is a must'' for the 60% to 70% who visit the South Island.

The two parties were talking about how to make those visitors feel more comfortable. While the percentage of Chinese drivers involved in crashes was ''relatively low'', more Chinese visitors meant more Chinese drivers and ''we know it's a concern of local residents here'', he said.

''We have already put information on the consulate website to let them know about the driving code.

''We want to put pamphlets about the driving code in every car rental area, starting now.

''We have traffic lights at every intersection, but most here do not, so that's a problem [for visiting Chinese drivers in New Zealand],'' Mr Xin said. Chinese tourists were attracted to New Zealand's natural beauty, as it was difficult to find similar sights in their own country, as well as cuisine, wine and ''local stories'', he said.

Mr Xin dispelled the belief sites, such as the historic Chinese settlement in Arrowtown, were distressing for some Chinese visitors because of the harsh life the Chinese pioneers lived far from home.

The Arrowtown settlement was a major attraction for Chinese tourists and needed to be preserved, he said.

A team of four Chinese scholars was researching Chinese heritage sites around the South Island and Arrowtown was on its itinerary, he said.

''History is history. The only thing to do is to tell people what history is,'' he said.