The Germans have cracked on to a nice little scheme to get tourists to directly fund major infrastructure. From 2016, visitors to the land of the autobahn and large men in leather shorts will have to pay to drive on the roads.

It's not a huge charge (about $15.50 for a 10-day pass, $30 for two months of driving and around $160 for a full year), but this permit scheme ticks some nice boxes and could be used in New Zealand to kickstart funding on our most important roads.

It's expected to put about $3.8 billion into the German public coffers over four years. Of course, a similar fund here would be small by comparison, but you have to start somewhere. How about a simple scheme putting in place a $50 permit for a full year's worth of driving? The money raised could go into a protected fund, ring-fenced from other spending.

Many tourists on these shores rely on (and clog up) the roads from Cape Reinga to Bluff. It seems fair they should chip in for maintenance and improvements.


Reader feedback to recent Travel stories about the poor condition of State Highway 1 suggests people would like to see our main artery really pumping.

For years, visitors to the Cook Islands have handed over $20 for a local driver's licence. You shrugged your shoulders, handed over your cash and went on your way. (Kiwis and some other countries are now exempt from the system.) Foreign visitors to our shores would think nothing of paying a small fee for a permit.

Another advantage: We'd be able to get a few more bucks out of the freedom campers.


In last week's Travel section, we said visitors to the United States are required to have six months' validity on their passports beyond their intended period of stay. In fact, New Zealand passport-holders are among those exempt from that requirement. They do however require a valid ESTA visa waiver.

Similarly, New Zealand and Australian passport holders travelling to the Cook Islands require only seven days' validity beyond their intended period of stay in the country.

The error is regretted.