Rotorua has one of the highest number of crashes involving tourists, according to New Zealand Transport Agency statistics.

But authorities say they are working on ways to lower the risk in the area.

Rotorua was placed 12 in the top 20 places around New Zealand with the most crashes involving, or caused by, tourists.

Two Australian tourists were killed and seven others injured last Friday when their van crossed the centre line and collided with a milk tanker on State Highway 5 south of Settlers Rd in Reporoa.


Bay of Plenty Police communications manager Kim Perks said police were still investigating what caused the van to cross the centre line. They were not ruling out driver fatigue, but it was too early to say, she said.

Late last month a tourist attempted to do a U-turn on State Highway 5 outside the Waiotapu Tavern and was hit by another car. Four people were injured.

From 2009 to 2013, the Rotorua region had 55 crashes involving tourists, making up 7 per cent of the total crashes in the area.

The national average for tourist crashes currently sits at six per cent.

Nationally, overseas drivers were involved in 11 fatal crashes, 90 serious injury crashes and 448 minor injury crashes in 2013.

Of these, the overseas driver had primary fault in all of the fatal crashes, 78 of the serious injury crashes and 328 of the minor injury crashes, resulting in 13 deaths, 105 serious injuries and 508 minor injuries.

New Zealand Transport Agency's Bay of Plenty regional director Harry Wilson said the agency was working hard to reduce all crashes, including those involving overseas drivers.

"Every death and serious injury on our roads is a tragedy. In line with the government's road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, steps are being taken to improve the road system through the safe system approach."


Mr Wilson said the aim was to bring the road toll down by making every part of the transport system safer.

The New Zealand Transport Agency, alongside ACC, the Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Police, and local government has initiated a signature road safety project to focus on visiting drivers.

The project will look at the wider issue of crashes involving drivers visiting from other areas in New Zealand as well as overseas drivers.

Mr Wilson said the project would also explore different ways of encouraging tourists to hire the safest rental vehicles, and promote safe and realistic route choices.

"The findings will be used to improve safety around New Zealand, including the Bay of Plenty. It is important to point out that not all overseas drivers involved in crashes have the primary fault in the crash, and only a minority of those crashed because they failed to adapt to New Zealand driving conditions.

"Most overseas drivers crash for the same reasons as New Zealand drivers."