T for Tourist, or T for Take all my stuff?

A group of Kiwis is throwing their support behind a campaign calling  to drive with “T-plates” on their rental cars.

The founder of the “T-Plates for Tourists” movement said tourists should have to pass a test before they can drive on New Zealand’s challenging, distracting and often unforgiving terrain.

“People who come to this country are given the right to drive despite many of them not knowing our driving rules or regulations – hence the number of crashes that occur on our roads,” the man, known only as Josh, told MediaWorks.

“I think there should be a test for tourists to sit like our learners test that is compulsory for anyone who wants to drive in this country.

“Following passing this test they could receive a T-plate which would allow other drivers to know the dangers.”

The campaign’s Facebook page has attracted more than 3000 followers and a petition has started up on its dedicated website urging the Government to introduce a T-plate system.

What next?  A man walking in front of camper vans with flags?  

So the proposal for T-plates, which will alert local drivers to the foreigner in their midst, has been gaining support across the country.

“New Zealand’s terrain and roads are unlike anywhere else in the world,” Wellington man Jacob Hattersley wrote in a recent piece for Fairfax in support of the proposal.

“This, combined with the prospect and perception of space, beauty and a largely insouciant attitude, has blinded many tourists when travelling across our country.

“It seems highly illogical that the country imposes a three-tier licensing system that governs the New Zealand public, yet very few measures are imposed upon those unfamiliar with the land.”

Last year, the country’s rental vehicle and tourism groups developed a code of practice that would better screen tourists who wanted to drive a rented vehicle in New Zealand, including asking them if they were familiar with local road rules before getting behind the wheel.

Contempt for foreign drivers is nothing new.

Define Tourist.   If I drop into Queenstown and grab a rental car at the airport for a long weekend away, do I have to drive around with a T plate?   I prefer not, if it is all the same thanks.  What better way to stand out like a sore thumb?

Not to bash the far North, but I similarly see a T plate as a “come rob my vehicle” sign.

When I’m visiting somewhere, I prefer not to stand out.  Standing out is not a good idea.  Neither is being labeled as something different, less than others.


Shouldn’t we make other people wear yellow stars too?  Perhaps beneficiaries should be labeled?

Maori too, so we know not to be racist towards them.

And trans-gendered so we can direct them to safe toilets.


– news.com.au via NZ Herald


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  • shykiwibloke

    T for Taniwha – doesn’t like bends in main highways.

  • oldmanNZ

    so some people come up with a hair brain idea in facebook, gets 3000 likes, its news,

    there was a petition for horse to be allowed on trails as well on FB, got 3800 likes or something, is that news,?

    there one to ban Roudup, and even one to make Frozen stars a lesbian?

    do government take FB petition seriously? Like the Red triangle flag.

    maybe they should bring out policies on FB (I think Labour has) and the ones with most likes gets in, save money on referendums.

    • Isherman

      Only Labour have been successful in making FB a genuine topic of news…you know, when it was suggested that by being a big multi – national that didn’t pay enough tax, they could be banned…snigger.

  • Isherman

    Cant see what good a T plate would do at all. There is no single silver bullet solution, other than that it has to involve a simple & effective way of communicating the sort of risks and hazards that overseas drivers may be faced with in NZ, along with technology, which as time goes by will be more and more common in more vehicles. Things like lane assist and other ‘smart’ vehicle technology. The tourists probably need to be made aware of the most common reasons for coming to grief on our roads, and if the powers that be can concentrate on that, and work out how to get that across properly, you might get somewhere. But T plates….no, not the answer I don’t think.

  • Vutekno

    This is a poorly thought out idea in all sorts of ways.

    Hire car firms will need to change the number plate when a tourist hires the car for a start.
    Tourist borrows a local friends car, need to change number plate.
    Short stay tourist have to pass a driving test, yeah that will work.Not !
    And so on.

    These numpties are probably members of the Labour Party Strategy Think Tank I reckon!

  • Im a bit lost – how will having a T plate in the window help me avoid them when they are coming around a blind corner at 100kph on the wrong side of the road

    • Mrs_R

      Perhaps if they had to prove they were capable of driving at the minimum standard we expect from NZ’ers then they wouldn’t be coming around the corner on the wrong side of the road. I think that’s the point.

      • Isherman

        All well and good, but in 2014 there was something like 2.86 million International visitors for that year. They wont all be driving of course and I have no idea what percentage would be, but for arguments sake, lets say its 10-15% of them driving. The sheer logistics of somehow testing that (if that’s what you suggest) becomes quite a task. I just don’t see at the moment how you do it.

        • be interesting to see a comparison of accidents per 100,000 tourist drivers against accidents per 100,000 local drivers. I would imagine there is probably not that much of a spread between them

          • Isherman

            Fair point, and it would be interesting, especially if it could show the types of incidents, even if in very broad terms. I always wondered what the spread of accidents involving alcohol between the two groups is like as well.

      • Its hard enough to maintain a minimum standard of driving for locals. I see people every day and wonder exactly what cereal packet they got their license off

        • RightyTighty LeftyLoosey

          Probably more likely to be off a noodle packet….

        • Mrs_R

          To be fair I haven’t seen any locals (even on a learners ) coming directly towards me travelling the wrong way on a round-about. Fortunately my large 4 wheel drive was always going to win that battle. Overseas driver stopped in the middle of the road blocking my attempt to travel in the correct direction. Fortunately police car arrived on scene and the officer tried to communicate with them to move their vehicle. He ended up doing it himself because they couldn’t understand a word he said. I’m sure they had no trouble interpreting what I thought though. They shouldn’t have been on the road.

  • Catriona

    Ooh I know! Let’s ban them from driving altogether! That’ll work. Yeah – nah!

  • By this logic we could also have an ” I ” plate for incompetent or idiotic local drivers…… there are just as many if not more of them on the roads

    • jcpry

      How about D for the disqualified drivers that that keep on driving? That will work too!

      • Yup, And a DR for drunk….. if they are repeat offenders they get another badge each conviction

    • Left Right Out

      the IDI plate will be the most popular in NZ… I Don’t Indicate

      • 2nd will be the IRL – i Run Lights

  • Dave

    Another example, I live in Aussie, use an Aussie passport, have an Aussie license.

    Would I be forced to drive on a T Plate when i return to visit despite living in NZ for almost 40 years ? I have more driving experience in NZ than most current kiwi drivers under 40 years of age! One size does not fit all.

  • jcpry

    If I was in the number plate business I’d be all for it! What a totally impractical, useless numpty idea this is. A plate isnt going to stop poor driving.

  • Dave

    Here is another issue, if a tourist visits a friend or relative in NZ, and borrows their car to do a quick trip to the shops, or to tour NZ, do they need a T Plate, or is it okay as long as its not a rental vehicle. This will not work !!

  • Kiwi Sapper

    As I recollect, Australian road rules are very similar to ours apart from white painted median strips in the middle of the road.
    SO perhaps our Aussie mates should have a “AT” plate to indicate that they are pretty safe, and the Brits, who drive on the same side as we do a “BT” plate with a dangerous “DT” for the rest? :>)

  • JC

    Put T plates on a car and you’d have a posse of ferals on their tail wherever they went.. a great way to get the rape and pillage stats up.


    • Superman

      Exactly right. In some countries like South Africa rental cars have no markings that will identify them as rented as tourists are a prime target for criminals.

  • Superman

    While travelling from Ohakune toward National Park on a steep uphill, blind at the top the driver in front of me suddenly swerved onto the right hand side of the road. I wondered if he was committing suicide when I saw the reason. A mini-bus coming toward me on my side of the road. It flashed through my mind that if I swerved to the right and he realized that he was wrong and went back onto his side we would meet head on and I would get the blame. But he just kept coming and at the last moment I swerved right and the had to swerve back to avoid another car who was on the correct side of the road. I pulled off the road, jumped out of the car and vomited. My daughters boyfriend wanted me to chase the driver so we could get him and kill him but none of us saw what make or even colour the mini-bus was. We would not ever have seen a T-plate or sign and the only good it would have done would have been to help us identify him if we had chased him.

  • XCIA

    Most tourists, visitors or just plain travelers come here to enjoy an experience, not to be identified as some form of second class citizens from the get go. This is the sort of nonsense that will ruin the tourist industry.

    • Left Right Out

      Tourism is now our biggest industry, yet we have some that are intent on alienating them at every turn……. New Zealand 100% pure hatred

  • Left Right Out

    This is just another dumb jump on the bandwagon movement.

    “People who come to this country are given the right to drive despite many of them not knowing our driving rules or regulations”…. Well guess what, we go to other countries around the world and the same is expected.

    Try flying to LA and jumping off the plane and hoping into a car…. the biggest difference I find is the type of roads we drive on overseas verses NZ. Big open freeways with multiple lanes all heading in the same direction, generally separated so no head ons occur…… have a look at out SH1…. single carriageway for the most part, tight turns, up and down hills with stop or giveway side roads.

    So, I’m guessing that they will be happy putting DD plates on former Drunk Drivers so we know who they are too… S plates on Speeders….

  • InnerCityDweller

    “New Zealand’s terrain and roads are unlike anywhere else in the world”. Seriously? Ever been through Europe? That’s more challenging in most places than NZ will ever be and that’s not to mention Africa, South America, Asia….

    My questions these numpties is “what about you going overseas, wanting to explore in a rental car”? Want to sit a test? Didn’t think so….

    • Isherman

      Yep, I was recently at an event where the founder of Overland Journeys (Rally Tours) was talking about some of the roads overseas, be it South America, Europe, Central Asia along with photos…it’s a silly argument when you see what’s on offer around the place in terms of terrain and roads.

    • shykiwibloke

      Yep. Try driving in southern Sicily….

  • sheppy

    I foresee much strife for locals who decide to get outraged at any capable drivers that take a cheap flight across country, then hire a car, and then dare to carry out an overtake. Especially if the overtaken one decides to try and give chase, without the driving ability to do so

  • D-Rad

    So when we lived in Australia and came home for holidays, we would hire a car to drive to my parents or in laws or visit friends. I had an NZ licence but it expired at some point while we were in Australia so would drive on my NSW or QLD one. Would I need a T? My wife still had a valid NZ licence. Would she not need a T? What about the weekend I rushed home to visit my grandad when he was unwell, I borrowed a friends car, but drove on a QLD licence, would I have needed a T plate? ABSURD!!!

  • Ruahine

    I think we can do better than just having a T plate. We should also have a C plate for those with ‘Chinky’ names.

    • Seriously?

      An F plate for anyone from Westport?

  • Bombastic

    I’m sure a T plate will never prevent the most common cause of accident involving those who usually drive on the right, reverting to instinct in an emergency or at the lapse of concentration. In the same way microchipping dogs never stopped attacks by the dangerous ones.

    • Davo42

      I have always found that driving on your non-intuitive side is most difficult when there is no other traffic to guide you. I fail to see how a T plate will prevent you from getting a head on hit from a tourist driver coming at you round a blind corner on the wrong side.

  • rexabus

    Maybe all visiting drivers could be issued with a( constantly on)enormous flashing light or loud siren to attach to the roof of their car so that traffic could be warned of the approaching danger early and move off to the side of the road

  • Wouldn’t it be simpler if all rental vehicles had a sign on the dash in front of the driver saying : “Drive on the left side of the road”.

    • Forrest Ranger

      All the rentals I have hired in NZ do have this sign


      If only it was that simple….

  • Forrest Ranger

    The headline of this article says it all. Advertising that a car is a rental by using a T plate or any other means is an invitation for the light fingered in our community to help themselves to the contents. Travelers who hire rental cars are likely to have all their belongings in the boot while they wonder off to take photos of boiling mud or blowhole rocks.
    In France rental cars have red number plates and the fact that the car can easily be identified as a rental has given me anxiety that we will come back to it and find our stuff missing.

    T plates are the dumbest idea I have seen in a long time.