Foreign driver hit Newshub journalist

Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford
Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford

Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford has spoken out about the crash that left her with serious injuries.

Newshub understands a 28-year-old Chinese national, who had been in New Zealand for a short time on a student visa, was driving the car that hit her. 

"It's in their [police] hands now. We did nothing wrong," she says. "This was an avoidable tragedy."

The crash killed the horse she was riding and left Mrs Rutherford with a broken leg, a head injury and broken ribs and toes. The horse, Curious George, died at the scene. 

Foreign driver hit Newshub journalist

Mrs Rutherford's 13-year-old daughter Ella, who was riding just ahead on the family's other horse, narrowly escaped being hit.

Mrs Rutherford has posted an emotional video to her Facebook page from her hospital bed, where she remains 10 days after the incident at Dairy Flat. 

"I'm not sure where to start. How do you thank people who have just been so generous with their thoughts and wishes in the last eight days, I'm just so grateful, as is my beautiful family, for all the love and support you've shown us," she says.

"My leg has been degloved. I won't be wearing a miniskirt for a very long time. 'Woohoo', I hear you say! It's not pretty, but I have a leg, and you've got to be thankful for that," says Mrs Rutherford. 

"I went flying through the air and I hit that windscreen with an almighty force. But when I opened my eyes in that ditch, I just thought 'wow, I'm alive. This is cool, I'm ok'. Then the panic set in." 

Police are investigating the crash and Mrs Rutherford says she has done a four-hour interview with officers. 

Auckland police have not replied to a Newshub request for comment.

The Prime Minister has ruled out forcing tourists to pass a driving test, saying it would mean "retaliatory" action against Kiwis wanting to drive overseas.

Mr Key said Mrs Rutherford's crash was a "tragedy". 

But he disagreed with calls to make tourist drivers pass a New Zealand driving test.

"I don't think the answer would be running people through a very short-term test I don't think that is likely to work."

He said any testing regime would likely be replicated in other countries.

"I think New Zealanders when they went overseas and had to get tested they would find that very frustrating."

Mr Key is Tourism Minister and the crash that left Mrs Rutherford seriously injured happened in his Helensville electorate.

He said the rate of tourist-caused accidents was "certainly not perfect but it has improved".

Mr Key said there were helpful initiatives like tourism operators and rental car companies educating tourist drivers, arrows painted on the right-hand side of the road and an education video on Air New Zealand planes.

Foreigners are allowed to drive in New Zealand if they have been in the country for less than a year, hold a valid overseas licence that is in English, and haven't been disqualified. 

Official figures from the Ministry of Transport show foreign drivers caused 19 deaths last year, 113 serious injuries and 616 minor injuries.