The Chinese driver of a van that crashed near Wanaka last year, killing three people, may have only had 20 minutes of experience driving on New Zealand roads.

Wing Fai Chan, 62, was driving the hired Hyundai van when it collided with a truck and trailer unit at the intersection at the botto m of the Luggate hill, in a 100km/h zone, on November 6 last year.

Mr Chan, also known as Allan, was killed in the crash, along with passengers Kwai Tei Chong, 62, known as Connie, and Yin Wan Ng, 57, known as Priscilla.

The group from Hong Kong had been driving in convoy with another hire Hyundai van.


The driver of the second van, I Yuen Ching Kong, said in a statement to the police Mr Chan had taken over driving the van about 20 minutes before the crash and, to Mr Kong's knowledge, it was the first time he had driven in New Zealand.

Nicola Dougherty, a mother of Hawea Flat, told a coroner's inquest in Queenstown today the two vans performed a "dangerous" passing manoeuvre on State Highway 8A minutes before the crash, passing her vehicle before the brow of a hill where "no passing" lines had been painted on the road.

"I thought, 'What are they doing?' There's no way there was enough room to overtake before the brow of the hill. You couldn't see beyond it.

"The way they were driving made me angry. It was very dangerous."

The Scania truck the van collided with was being driven south from Wanaka by Keith Dickison, 66, of Alexandra, who suffered minor injuries.

Mr Kong's statement said, as the vans approached the intersection, at which drivers on State Highway 8A are expected to give way to those on State Highway 6, he saw the truck coming down the Luggate hill and watched Mr Chan pulling out into its path.

He said the truck "appeared to be driving very fast" and he would not have pulled out.

Senior Constable Alastair Crosland, an Alexandra-based crash analyst, told Coroner David Crerar speed, alcohol and fatigue were not factors in the crash for either driver.


The visibility and road conditions were also good and no mechanical fault was found with either vehicle.

Mr Dickison was estimated to have been travelling at 84km/h at the top of the Luggate hill. His speed briefly peaked at 91km/h as he descended and was 61km/h when it hit the van.

He told Mr Crerar he "could not believe his eyes" when the van pulled out in front him, he estimated about 30m from the intersection.

It appeared Mr Chan had simply "looked and didn't see" the truck, Mr Crosland said.

Another witness, Adrienne Gaston, of Christchurch, who was driving behind the truck down the hill, said in a statement Mr Chan hesitated at the intersection but it appeared he did not intend to stop.

She pulled over, closed her eyes and heard a "massive bang".


Mr Crerar echoed the opinion of the police there was nothing Mr Dickison could have done to avoid the crash.

He reserved his findings.