Are you still skiing? Operation Hotoke wrap-up (+PHOTOS)

Are you still skiing? Operation Hotoke wrap-up (+PHOTOS)

Inspector Gini Welch
  • Inspector Gini Welch
  • Inspector Bruce O'Brien
  • Inspector Pete McKennie
  • Scraper given out to motorists
National News

If you are still hooking on the bunny slopes or free skiing off-piste in the gnarly white room, then you need to take note:

Attribute to Inspector Pete McKennie, Manager Operations, Road Policing

Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency last week undertook a combined operation to raise awareness about the increased risks associated with winter driving. Operation Hōtoke (winter) was aimed at drivers heading to and from ski fields around the country and focused on the heightened risks on alpine roads during the ski season.

“The operation proved to be a fantastic opportunity to engage with drivers and passengers in a largely preventative way.  As well as talking to people at ski fields and at the road side, we reached about 305,000 people through social media, which is pretty amazing, says Inspector McKennie.  

The most concerning thing was a small number of people having young children not restrained in child car seats, citing that the children were “unsettled”.  If children are unsettled people need to stop and take a break.  Driving with them unrestrained is never an acceptable option. 

Also concerning, was people planning to drive home on journeys of five or more hours when already physically and mentally drained from a full day or more of skiing, he said.

One bus operator identified with safety issues for its buses by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Team, was effectively dealt with at the time.

Most people were making really good road safety decisions, including being conscious of driving to the unpredictable winter driving conditions.  Many were also making sound decisions concerning fatigued driving, either not skiing at all or only skiing for a half day on travel days.

We can all drive in a manner and at a speed that enables us to safely respond to the unexpected, be that another road user making a mistake in front of us or something unexpected in the road environment.  If we all do this consistently we can avoid mistakes leading to tragic outcomes says Inspector McKennie. 

The Transport Agency’s Director Safety and Environment Harry Wilson says everyone should plan their journey before they travel. “Think about where you’re going and what route you should take, choose safety over convenience. Always check the weather forecast and road conditions and if the weather is poor, consider if you really need to travel.”

For the latest winter driving conditions visit or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS. Weather updates can be found on the MetService website

Police deploy to winter road safety risks on an ongoing basis as the demand dictates; however this operation enhances public awareness with a view to having wider benefits.  We will review this operation and identify the optimum time to run it again, together with enhancements that can be included to its effectiveness, says Inspector McKennie. 


Issued by Police Media Centre


Insp Gini Welch in Wanaka/Queenstown (Cardrona, Treble Cone, Coronet Peak)
Insp Bruce O’Brien in Canterbury (Mt Hutt, Porters)
Insp Pete McKennie (together with Senior Sergeant Phil Critchley) in Ruapehu (Turoa, Whakapapa)
The scraper that was handed out for free to the public