A French tourist arrived into the country just hours before he died in a rental car.

The three-car smash, south of Whangarei on Christmas Day, has prompted a call from police for tourists to have a decent rest before getting behind the wheel.

Police yesterday said the dead man was Remi Morilleau, 27, of Nantes in western France who arrived in Auckland from Melbourne with his partner on December 25.

He was the second foreign tourist to die on the stretch of road in less than two months within hours of arriving in the country.

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One of the vehicles involved in a fatal crash in Oakleigh on Christmas Day that claimed the life of French tourist Remi Morilleau and seriously injured his partner.
One of the vehicles involved in a fatal crash in Oakleigh on Christmas Day that claimed the life of French tourist Remi Morilleau and seriously injured his partner.

It's the latest serious accident involving a tourist in New Zealand and comes as plans are being made for better screening of overseas tourists before they hire cars in New Zealand.

Whangarei acting sergeant Stephen Dawson said the pair picked up a rental car from Auckland about 3pm on the day of their arrival and headed north.

Preliminary investigations revealed Mr Morilleau's rental car crossed the centre line and collided with other vehicles about 6.45pm. His partner suffered serious injuries and is still recovering at Whangarei Hospital. The crash happened about halfway between the intersections of SH1 and Maungakaramea Rd and SH1 and Mangapai Rd.

The driver of another vehicle also suffered serious injuries, while two children were treated for minor injuries.

Police said the crash happened just north of where a 64-year-old Englishman, who had also arrived in the country on the same day, died after a head-on smash near the intersection of Totara Rd and SH1 at Oakleigh on November 4.

Mr Dawson said that arrangements were being made to fly the French tourist's body back to Nantes.

"His parents have been informed of his death."

Northland's road death toll so far this year stands at 22 compared with 19 for the whole of last year.

Northland police acting road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers said he would be supportive of any plans, such as one recently developed by the Rental Vehicle Association New Zealand and the Tourism Industry Association, to lower road crashes involving tourist drivers. The associations have developed an industry practice to better screen and educate tourist drivers, who have come under intense public scrutiny lately after high-profile fatal crashes throughout the country.

"Some of our police staff in Northland have previously taken licences of overseas tourists and forbidden them from driving," Mr Ewers said.

"The other important factor involving overseas tourists on our roads is fatigue. They are not used to our roads and need adequate rest before driving long distances. Our roads are unforgiving and you don't think anything could happen to you but it happens."

Early this year, a new compilation of statistics by Go Rentals revealed tourist drivers were only marginally more likely than local drivers to crash because they failed to keep left. Using New Zealand Transport Agency and police data, the rental car company said speed was a factor in 13 per cent of accidents for all crashes and a factor in 18 per cent of crashes involving tourist drivers. Twelve per cent of crashes involved tourists failing to keep left.