Foreign tourist sentenced for head-on crash

A man's dashboard camera captured the crash incident (Newshub)
A man's dashboard camera captured the crash incident (Newshub)

A foreign tourist, whose careless driving was captured by an in-car camera, has been ordered to pay $3000 reparation.

 Yi Zhu was in New Zealand for a scenic family holiday, but he ended up in the Christchurch District Court.

Filmmaker Gary Strangman rounded a corner near Glenorchy and was hit head on by Mr Zhu in a rental vehicle, who appeared to be on the wrong side of the road.

The 45-year-old has been ordered to pay $3000 for emotional harm and disqualified from driving for six months. He was charged with careless driving causing injury.

The incident was captured my Mr Strangmans's dashboard camera. The impact broke his sternum and totalled both vehicles, and he says it could have been even worse.

"About three minutes after the crash, three motorcyclists arrived on the scene all in a group together, so had they been where I was there'd have been deaths."

The crash knocked out Mr Zhu's son and cracked the sternum of Mr Strangman.

This afternoon MR Zhu pleaded guilty to two charges of careless driving causing injury.

"So sorry for this traffic crash. I want to say sorry to the other guy and I make some trouble to him," he says.

Mr Zhu's explanation to the court for why he crossed the centre line was that in China they drive on the right-hand side of the road and his natural instinct was to drift right as he rounded the corner.

Outside court his interpreter offered an explanation his behalf.

"In New Zealand we drive on the left side while in other countries on the right side, so it's kind of difficult for people to react when something happened," says interpreter Sophie Chen.

Police are gearing up for a busy few weeks with an influx of 70,000 visitors for the Chinese New Year.

They will have more patrolling the roads and have advice for those unsure about New Zealand road rules.

"They need to be aware of what they're doing -- particularly when something happens they're not expecting, particularly pulling over to the wrong side of the road or just knowing the speed limits --they've just got to be aware," says road policing manager of Canterbury Acting Inspector Ash Tab.

Those are rules Mr Zhu isn't likely to ever forget.