A tourist driver was ticketed for speeding at more than 140kmh two days before a head-on smash, a court has heard.

Polish man Milosz Urbanek, 36, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday with plaster covering his two broken arms following the incident on February 14.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing injury, which carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, and will be sentenced in May.

Urbanek arrived in New Zealand on January 28 on a tourist visa, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said.

Advertisement

After two weeks in the country, he hired a Toyota in Christchurch.

The court heard while motorists drove on the right-hand side in Poland, the country's speed limits were similar to New Zealand's. However, on February 12, Urbanek was clocked by police doing 142kmh on the Pleasant Point-Cave highway near Timaru.

He was issued an infringement fine of $510 and arrived in Tuatapere the next day.

After spending the night there, the defendant drove away on the Clifden highway.

As Urbanek approached a hilly section of road outside the Southland township, he strayed on to the wrong side.

As he approached the corner at the top of a rise, a Nissan ute came from the other direction heading south.

"Due to the lack of visibility created by the hill and corner, neither vehicle had the opportunity to avoid each other meeting close to the apex of the corner," court documents said.

The vehicles slammed into each other head on, the impact so sudden no skid marks were found at the scene by crash analysts.

The victim was travelling about 90kmh when the crash happened, police said.

Urbanek's speed might be ascertained when serious crash unit staff downloaded the data from the rental car's on-board computer.

While the victim was rushed to Invercargill Hospital with concussion, broken ribs and a hole in his lung, Urbanek was airlifted to Dunedin after being cut out of his vehicle.

There he was treated for head injuries and two broken arms.

The defendant told police he could not remember what happened.

Urbanek was the third tourist driver to come before the Dunedin District Court in the past 10 days.

Last week, 28-year-old Chinese national Zhenjun Zhao was ordered to pay two innocent motorists $750 after pulling out of a road at Arrow Junction into a passing truck, causing it to cannon into another car.

And on Thursday Dr Kansei Uno, a Japanese medical professional, was sentenced to pay a Southland family $15,000 after he fell asleep at the wheel and hit them head on.

Urbanek was yesterday remanded on bail by Judge Michael Turner to a hotel in Auckland.

Despite counsel Anne Stevens' requests for an early sentencing date, the hearing was scheduled for May.