Tourist driving school planned


Cromwell’s Highlands Motorsport Park is offering to teach tourist drivers New Zealand’s road rules.

Highlands Motorsport Park boss Josie Spillane says it’s in the “very early stages” of an agreement with Avis Budget Group, which owns car rental companies Avis and Budget.

Under the proposal, drivers will receive discounted car insurance if they complete a course at the track.

Mountain Scene revealed in December that tourist drivers are in bad local smashes, prompting fresh calls for rental car companies to test foreigners.

Spillane says its driver training sessions, taken by Highlands instructors, will last about 45 minutes.

They will teach road rules rather than offering general driving skills, she says – “things like driving on the left-hand side of the road, giving way”.

It will be aimed at tourist drivers visiting Queenstown and Wanaka.

Spillane: “We’ve got this amazing facility on the doorstep of the adventure capital of New Zealand and we pride ourselves on being proactive in helping the community.”

It’s too early to determine when the programme will start, but it would be ready for winter.

Although most car crashes in NZ involve locals, Highlands wants to do what it can to promote driver safety, she says.

“We’re not saying we’re going to fix everything, but we’ve seen a problem and we’re doing what we can to help.

“We already have a number of programmes to teach Kiwis road safety, including the best young driver competition that we had here on the weekend.”

The programme will “not necessarily” cost the drivers.

The Avis Budget Group and Highlands would both actively promote it, she says, adding: “And we’re hoping the industry will promote it as well.”

Drivers renting cars in Queenstown will have to drive to get to the park, but “they’d be doing that anyway”, she says.

If the scheme is successful, the park will look to offer the training all year round and take the idea to sister park’ Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in Waikato.

Avis Budget Group couldn’t be reached for comment.

Last weekend Highlands owner Tony Quinn showed off – a $4.2 million Aston Martin Vulcan to commemorate three years since the race track opened its gates.

Otago Daily Times