Rookie police drivers made of the white stuff


Queenstown cops have been in a spin while hitting the white powder on a tough winter driving course.

Local officers joined police from other southern stations at The Remarkables skifield carpark this week for a two-day Freeze Drive Snow and Ice training programme.

The course is run by Hawkes Bay sheep farmer Mark Warren, who’s also a former 4×4 rally ace.

“Queenstown gets a lot of officers posted down from Auckland and driving in the snow is almost a foreign concept to them,” Warren says. “I put people in a situation where they have lost control of their vehicle, then show them how to get it back again.

“I do tend to get a few screamers but I’m used to it.”

Warren comes to the resort every winter to instruct a range of drivers from the likes of ambulance and police, council roading contractors, snow plough operators – and even Wakatipu midwives.

“The midwives were a surprise client but babies don’t wait until the weather gets better to be born.”

Warren reckons the course is a wise investment.

“I try to price it to cost about half as much as a dent would be.”

All of the Queenstown police drivers taking part were on the programme for the first time, senior sergeant John Fookes says.

“Our officers are expected to operate in bad conditions and it’s important they know the hazards, limitations and a few techniques to keep them safe,” he adds.