Sentencing of a Chinese tourist that caused a crash has brought mental closure to Northland tourism operators Peter and Xiaoli Birchall who want to move on in life.

The couple, together with their friend Robin Collins and two small dogs, suffered injuries after Guanghua Zeng's rental car veered on the wrong side of the road and caused a head-on collision. The crash happened on West Coast Rd, Waipapakauri, in the Far North on April 13.

Zeng, 64, earlier pleaded guilty to five charges of careless driving causing injury and appeared for sentencing in the Whangārei District Court this week.

Judge Greg Davis disqualified him from driving for six months and ordered him to pay his three victims $1000 each in reparation.


The maximum penalty for the charge, laid under the Land Transport Act, is three months imprisonment or a $4500 fine. There's also a minimum six months disqualification.

The Birchalls run small-group tours throughout New Zealand but had to close their business until they have the confidence to drive safely.

"I still see visions of that car coming around the corner. Luckily the crash happened in the off-season," Birchall said.

He and his wife attended Zeng's sentencing as they needed the closure so they could move forward.

The police summary of facts said Zeng was driving a Mitsubishi rental car when he crossed the centre line into the oncoming lane on a corner. He was driving at 80km/h.

The Birchalls were travelling in a Nissan Murano at the same speed in an opposite direction. They swerved to their left to avoid collision with Zeng's car.

But Zeng swerved further right into a direct line in front of the other vehicle. Both cars collided head-on and were write-offs.

The victims vehicle stayed upright while Zeng's rental car rolled on its side.

Xiaoli Birchall suffered four broken ribs, a fractured sternum and sharp pain when she breathed or coughed. Peter Birchall and Collins had bruising and soft tissue damage to his sternum and upper chest.

The Birchalls' two small dogs were also injured. One suffered a broken pelvic bone and the other soft tissue injuries. Their vet bill was paid for by Zeng.