After a week away, I arrived home on Thursday to the news there'd been another fatal crash involving visitors to this country. Three people were killed when their motor home collided with a truck near Wanaka. They had been travelling with another motor home, and the five people in that van were horrified witnesses to the crash.
It was horrendous for everyone - the families and friends of those killed, the truck driver and the emergency services crew. But the words "tourists", "fatal" and "crash" are too common in our headlines.
According to the NZ Herald, 558 overseas drivers were in fatal or injurious crashes last year. In about three-quarters of those cases, the overseas drivers were at fault. This year, we saw the tragedy of a Dutch businessman ploughing into the side of a vehicle after driving through a stop sign, resulting in three deaths.
The figures need to be put into perspective. There were 558 drivers from other countries involved in accidents last year but we had 2.7 million visitors in 2012, so most tourists driving here do so safely.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't be doing more to warn visitors of our peculiar driving conditions. They are probably aware of the left-hand drive rule if they plan to hire a car, but I doubt American, European or Chinese visitors have any idea of the state of our roads. Conversations about creating awareness of our roads occur every time there's a fatality involving a tourist, and have included suggestions that visitors should get a New Zealand driver licence - something the Prime Minister has ruled out on the basis that Kiwi drivers would be penalised if we moved away from an international agreement guaranteeing driving rights in signatory countries.
The rental car companies are now providing more extensive information for customers, but one of the better suggestions I've heard is to offer an in-flight driving app or game to tourists to practise their driving. Let's face it, we're a long way from just about anywhere and the time spent on the plane could be spent getting up to speed with local conditions instead of watching endless romcom movies.
Of course, in the end there's no substitute for common sense. Driving when you're tired is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Knowing your limits is always going to be a better way of keeping yourself safe than any legislation the Government might pass.
Crikey! I came back from my trip to find there'd been quite some reaction to last week's column on our exorbitantly high power bill. It seems we're not alone in getting a nasty surprise, and people weren't complaining only about Contact. Other power companies had delivered bad news to their customers too.
Among the emails was one from Bodie, who's in the sales and customer experience department at Contact. She explained that the high bill was because estimated readings had been used for our gas bill.
The meter reading team had been unable to access the meter because of a locked gate, apparently.
Bodie has asked me to check our electricity and gas meters, and if there is a creeping meter - one which is inaccurately recording usage, the team responsible for refunds will look at reimbursing us.
I sincerely hope they're more competent than the estimated usage team. How could they have got it so wrong? According to Bodie, it's because, in the past, they have overestimated our use - we've received bills of $300, instead of $200.
Which again would indicate they don't know their arses from their elbows when it comes to estimating a household's electricity and gas consumption.
Oh, and as for the locked gate - they're right. One gate is locked. The other is not.
An email or a phone call or even trying the other gate could have sorted that one out easily.
We'll do the tests this week and I'll get back to you. It's something you might like to try if you've received a nasty bill - just ask your power company for the details.
Also in fairness to Contact, Bodie said although it has passed on changes in costs from electricity and gas distribution and transmission companies, Contact has not increased the energy cost component of the bill, which it controls, and won't until a review in April next year.
• Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB, Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight