An American tourist visiting the West Coast on a working holiday visa suffered a severe brain injury after driving drunk and crashing his car near Franz Josef Glacier.

Tyler Wood appeared for sentencing in Greymouth District Court on Tuesday. He was fined $950 and banned from driving for six months.

Wood had been drinking in Franz Josef with friends on April 25 when, after being refused any more alcohol at a bar due to his intoxication, he got into his car and headed north toward Okarito.

However, just 2km out of Franz township he lost control of his car on a bend, ploughed off the road into a ditch, which his vehicle then continued to travel along for another 70m.


Wood was unconscious when he was cut out of the car and put into an ambulance at 3.30am.

He suffered a severe brain injury, a fracture and a number of cuts and bruises. A blood test at Grey Base Hospital showed a result of 120mcg per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal adult limit is 80mcg.

In the Greymouth District Court on Tuesday, lawyer John O'Connell said the accident was serious enough that it would have left most people in a coma.

Judge Robert Murfitt said nothing he could say to Wood compared to the brain injury that he had suffered.

"Hopefully, youth and resilience will allow you to largely recover," the judge said.