Licence conversion delays frustrate

Queenstown's AA agency has been struggling to cope with growing numbers of foreigners wanting to convert their overseas driving licence to a Kiwi one.

However, Roger Venn, AA’s commercial & product GM, says they’ve been "working hard to employ and train new staff, which will give the agency more capacity to process applications".

To reduce waiting times, the centre initially introduced an online booking system. But Jasmin, a Wanaka-based German, who only wants to be identified by her first name, says that’s not worked.

"I clicked on approximately 90 different dates, and it was always the same message, ‘no availability on this day’.

"You had to keep refreshing the calendar and you might just be lucky to get an appointment", says Jasmin, whose issue was an expired international translation on her German lifetime licence.

Venn says "we acknowledge, due to demand, bookings and slots have been filling up in advance".

Jasmin, who’s complained "multiple times" to AA, says on one visit to the Queenstown centre, off Glenda Dr, she witnessed within 15 minutes "how they sent eight people away, potentially with expired drivers’ licences, and suggested they drive all the way down to Gore or Invercargill to convert their drivers’ licences, instead of asking one of their staff to travel to Queenstown".

Driving with an expired licence could also cause insurance problems if there’s a crash, Jasmin suggests.

However, Venn says if a conversion is needed urgently, "we recommend [the customer] make an appointment at an alternative agency, such as Gore, which has lower demand for this service".

"While visitors have 12 months upon arrival to apply for an overseas conversion, we encourage people to start the process as early as possible, and check the website frequently as appointment dates and times are added throughout the day due to cancellations."