A code of practice has been finalised to better screen and educate tourist drivers before they hire a vehicle in New Zealand.

The code has been developed by the Rental Vehicle Association and Tourism Industry Association and rental companies are being encouraged to sign up to the code of practice before the peak tourism season.

In March, concerns about the safety of tourist drivers prompted the group to unanimously agree to develop the code as a matter of urgency.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss said under the code of practice rental vehicle operators will assess drivers' experience, provide more pre-arrival information on New Zealand driving conditions and share information with their competitors.


"This initiative builds on a large amount of work already underway, including the multi-agency Visiting Drivers Signature Project, an online training module for overseas travel agents, a Chinese-language safety guide and improvements to road infrastructure.

"The code will also provide rental vehicle operators with procedures for managing situations where they have concerns about a driver's preparedness to tackle New Zealand conditions," Mr Foss says.

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand Chief Executive Chris Roberts said the code provides visitors with more pre-arrival information about New Zealand driving conditions.

"Our aim is to provide a minimum standard of consistency in operators' approach to providing information to visitors on what's different about driving in New Zealand."

A trial of Queenstown rental vehicle companies sharing information resulted in at least two companies refusing to hire a vehicle to a driver who had a contract cancelled.

Rental Vehicle Association Chief Executive Barry Kidd said he was pleased to see the commitment from the industry to address public concerns.

"The indications are that we can expect a bumper tourism season next summer, so we want to do all we can to keep both our visitors and New Zealanders safe on our roads," he said.

The code of practice in voluntary and was developed following agreement among the leaders of about 25 rental vehicle companies, representing the majority of cars and campervans hired to international visitors.


Recommended questions to be asked to visiting driver under new code of practice:

a. I am familiar with NZ road rules Yes/No

b. I am familiar with the DriveSafe website Yes/No

c. I have driven regularly in my home country in the past year Yes/No

d. I feel well prepared to drive in NZ Yes/No

e. This will be my first time driving on the left hand side of the road Yes/No


f. I have driven a vehicle of similar size or in the same transmission Yes/No

Questions available in English, Mandarin, German and French.