Advice for Chinese New Year drivers

Amelia Steel
Amelia Steel
Southern police are stepping operations up a gear to ensure thousands of tourists converging on the region over Chinese New Year are up to speed with the road rules.

Southern district road policing and operations manager Inspector Amelia Steel, of Dunedin, said police anticipated an influx of "self-driving" Chinese tourists in February, as tomorrow is the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Many of those tourists will hop in a rental car or camper van straight off the plane and start driving south.

As a result, police wanted to make sure they had  read about the road rules and the dangers of highways in Otago and Southland, Insp Steel said.

"We recognise that there’s going to be an increase of self-drive tourists from China, and we’re focused on ensuring they have a high awareness of our road conditions and the rules."

Officers would intermittently establish checkpoints and speak to motorists, where necessary distributing pamphlets in Mandarin that included road rules and safety messaging, along with a QR code to a link with comprehensive information about road safety and police generally.

The operation would run through February. A major deployment of officers would begin on Wednesday in Omarama, a bottleneck into the region for international self-driving visitors who picked up rental vehicles in Christchurch and headed towards Queenstown, a drive that was longer than many tourists realised, Insp Steel said.

"We’re not going to be running it every day, but there are several periods where we’re going to have an increased police presence from Canterbury and Southern based there, doing checkpoints."

"Everything coming through is going to be stopped."

Insp Steel said the Burt Munro Challenge Rally in Invercargill, running from Wednesday to Sunday, would result in a growing number of motorcyles on roads across the South Island this week and further delay travel times.

There would be a heavy police presence at specific rally events but officers would also be patrolling the roads to keep rider behaviour in line.

Insp Steel urged all motorists to be patient and allow more time for journeys this month.


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