Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: NZ's highways are bad for tourism business

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Those speeding on the road are incredibly dangerous. Photo / Thinkstock
Those speeding on the road are incredibly dangerous. Photo / Thinkstock

Like all right-thinking members of a modern liberal democracy, I am against extrajudicial, summary executions ... in principle.

However, having driven from Auckland to Whangarei last Friday night, I can't help but wonder if - this being an election year and all - one of the major political parties should test the mood of the voters on the subject of immediate execution of people who drive below 80kph, then speed up to 110kph when they reach a passing lane.

Like the gun-toting Federal Marshals who cruise domestic routes on US airlines, we could commission unmarked, surface-to-surface-missile-equipped Freeway Marshals, empowered to blast offenders at will.

Of course, cleaning up the debris would be a hassle and we'd have some explaining to do to the international community about the whole human-rights thing. But the 80-to-110 crowd would quickly get the message.

OK, I'm being a tad facetious, but the 80-to-110 loons are dangerous, they clutter our roads and encourage rash overtaking moves. In truth, these candidates for summary despatch are just one of New Zealand's many highway horrors that stun visitors to these shores.

Anyone who's driven on the beautiful highways in the south of France will be flummoxed by the way SH1 comes to a grinding halt at Warkworth. Likewise the interminably long stretches of winding, one-lane highway - you know the parts I mean, right where you catch up to that logging truck.

Geography is often cited as a reason for New Zealand's half-baked infrastructure. But surely SH1 is the exception; geography has blessed us with a long, thin country, meaning we only need to get one long, thin road really sorted out. We only have one main artery - and, with milk trucks, campervans and logging rigs all sharing it, it's crucial to all our major industries. SH1 should be a minimum of two lanes all the way from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

And yes, we should spend the money to bang tunnels through the big hills, like the Brynderwyns.

Self-driving tourists are worth big money to New Zealand and happily they spread their spend into the regions. We should make it easier for them to do so.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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