Three tourists were stuck on the roadside in Northern Hawke's Bay after a motorist took their car keys at Easter.

The motorist was worried about the erratic driving of the rental vehicle between Wairoa and Gisborne on State Highway 2.

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The keys were delivered to Wairoa Police Station late on Saturday morning, about the same time as three Asian tourists were still trying to explain to other motorists someone had taken their car keys as they were parked beside the highway.


The rental vehicle had stopped about 15km northeast of Wairoa, on the flat south of Whakaki.

One motorist told Hawke's Bay Today the three tourists appeared to speak no English and were explaining their predicament by pointing at the empty ignition switch.

He said he was told soon afterwards that another motorist was worried about the erratic driving of the rental car and took the keys when the vehicle stopped.

It appeared the driver had been suffering a diabetic condition, and should not have been at the wheel.

Police last night said they had been told of a vehicle crossing the centre line on SH2 between Wairoa and Gisborne.

After the informant delivered the keys, police talked to the driver, established what had caused the driver to cross the centre line and gave the driver road safety advice and ensured the driver was capable and safe to continue driving.

"All drivers on New Zealand roads are treated in the same manner by police regardless of whether they hold a New Zealand driver licence or an overseas driver licence," police said.

"Police take all reports of dangerous driving behaviour seriously.


"Drivers who witness dangerous driving are urged to ring 111 and report this to police. This enables police to respond in a timely manner and manage the associated risks.

"Motorists are not encouraged to take matters into their own hands, instead they should report the behaviour to police immediately."

Police have previously warned against taking keys from motorists, dating back at least to January 2015 when four adults and three children were stranded after a motorist turned, followed and stopped a vehicle that almost had a head-on crash while overtaking in Lindis Pass, near Queenstown.

The motorist contacted police soon afterwards, and the tourist driver was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle.

It was reportedly one of at least five such key-snatchings during summer.

Then Prime Minister John Key later joined police in warning against the practice of taking the keys from strangers, saying: "The sensible thing to do is ring 111 and advise the police where you are because you just never know what could happen next."