Growing toll of inept Queenstown tourist drivers

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A tourist driver who seriously injured a Queenstowner in a head-on smash has been banned from driving.

American John Christopher Montepare, 29, was also ordered to pay $3000 to his victim.

The 24-year-old Queenstown woman was hospitalised with a broken sternum and broken ribs following the crash the Sunday before last.

Montepare had pulled out onto the wrong side of State Highway 6, Kawarau Gorge, near Goldfields Mining Centre, at about 5.30pm.

Police later issued a warning about crossing the centreline and driving to conditions after three head-on smashes that afternoon.

That warning came two months after police, Queenstown’s mayor Vanessa van Uden and Destination Queenstown joined forces to warn locals to be extra vigilant ahead of the expected summer influx of tourist drivers.

Judge Phillip Moran – at Queenstown District Court on Monday – says crashes involving tourist drivers are common.

“It’s a sad fact that, not only in New Zealand but around the world, these crashes are common,” Judge Moran says

“A moment’s inattention from tourist drivers can see them drive on the wrong side of the road – often with horrific consequences.”

Montepare, who’d been river-boarding that day, admitted careless driving causing injury and was disqualified for six months.

Judge Moran also banned Arrowtown builder Jamie William Paton, 35, for six months.

Paton had been clocked by police speeding at 131kmh in a 70kmh zone on the Lakes Hayes to Arrowtown Road in his new Audi at 8.55am Saturday, December 7.

Lawyer Tim Cadogan says: “While this might seem like he was testing his new car, it simply drove so well that he didn’t realise how fast he was going.”

Paton, who admitted a charge of dangerous driving, was also fined $500.

And Judge Moran also dealt with four drink-drivers – all caught in the past week.

Canadian fireman Benjamin Todd Barnard, 38, had the highest reading – 948 micrograms per litre of breath, more than double the legal limit.

Barnard was fined $800 and banned for six months.

Australian rigger Bede Michael Kean, 40, was disqualified for a year and a day after being caught drink driving on Lucas Place on Sunday morning.

Kean blew 461mcg and had been convicted twice before of drink driving but his last offence was some 14 years ago.

Kean, who said he’d been out drinking the night before and thought he’d be okay to drive, was also fined $500.

Queenstowner Leigh Michael Clarke, 29, was caught drink-driving on Brecon Street on Sunday. Clarke blew 627mcg, was banned for six months and fined $500.

And Yukiko Tani, 28, was also banned for six months and fined $500 after drink-driving on Church St, with a level of 683mcg.

Taxi un-fare
A tourist let a Queenstown taxi driver know exactly what he thought of him after being taken for a ride.

The visitor was charged $4 for a taxi trip from Camp St to nearby Ballarat St – a one-minute journey around the corner.

“The fare was unhappy, got out, opened the driver’s door, grabbed him and let him know what he thought of him,” senior constable Chris Blackford says.

No further action will be taken, says Blackford in relation to the incident, at 10.35pm on Sunday.

Acting the goat
A Queenstown landscape gardener was arrested after allegedly stripping and dancing on the Shotover Christmas Cracker stage in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“He was allegedly stripping, dancing and acting the goat on the Santa stage,” Blackford says.