Stephen Houseman, 20, had crashed while driving other Boston University students to a central North Island hike. Police said the crash appeared to happen when the minivan drifted to the side of the road and Houseman tried to correct his course but ended up rolling the van several times.
"It was a classic careless driving case where the carelessness was slight but the outcome was massive," said Judge Brooke Gibson, according to Fairfax Media.
At Auckland District Court, Houseman pleaded guilty to seven counts of careless driving causing injury or death.
The judge convicted the student, but didn't impose a penalty other than disqualifying him from driving for six months, Fairfax reported. Each charge had carried a maximum jail term of three months.
The crash happened on May 12, when Houseman was driving one of three minivans carrying 26 Boston University students to a scenic hike spot. Those killed were Austin Brashears, of California; Daniela Lekhno, of New Jersey; and Roch Jauberty, of Paris, France. Houseman and four other students were injured, including Meg Theriault, of Massachusetts, who suffered a severe brain injury. She has since awoken from a medically induced coma.
Houseman was supported in court by a contingent of Boston University students, their parents and at least one diplomat from the U.S. Consulate in Auckland.
"The embassy continues to monitor the situation and is providing consular services to the students involved in the accident and their families as needed," wrote U.S. Embassy spokesman David Edginton in a statement.
This program aired on June 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.