New Zealand Tourist routes are of a generally high standard and the main roads are sealed.
All roads, including those in rural locations, are well signposted. And self-driving is a great way to see New Zealand. But driving here may be a little different to what you are used to – starting with a need to remember to drive on the left!
You can find out what’s different about driving in New Zealand on the Land Transport New Zealand website.
You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver’s license from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
In New Zealand, all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their license or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car in New Zealand is 21 years.
Make sure your driver’s license is current. If your license is not in English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP. Contact your local automobile club for further details about obtaining a translation or an IDP.
It is important to note that if you are caught driving without an acceptable English translation or an IDP, you may be prosecuted for driving unlicensed or for driving without an appropriate license and will be liable for an infringement fee of NZ$400 or up to NZ$1,000 on a conviction in court.
New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. Drivers give way (or yield) to all traffic crossing or approaching from the right.
The speed limit is 100km/h on the open road and 50km/h in urban areas. You will find multi-lane motorways and expressways on the approaches to the larger cities, with most roads being dual carriageways. Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km).
Both drivers and passengers must wear a safety belt in both the front and back seats. All children under the age of five must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint when travelling in cars or vans.
Get plenty of sleep before a long drive. Take regular breaks – one every two hours and when you get sleepy.
Do not drink alcohol before driving in New Zealand, drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced.
Self-driving holidays are one if the most relaxing ways of enjoying New Zealand’s landscape. Many of our roads are scenic and traffic is low when compared to international standards.
Although New Zealand is a relatively small country it can take many hours to drive between cities and other destinations of interest. Even when distances are short, hilly or winding terrain or narrow secondary roads can slow your journey.
If you’re used to driving in the city, you should take care when driving on the open country roads. New Zealand has a good motorway system but weather extremes, the terrain and narrow secondary roads and bridges require drivers to be very vigilant.
Never drive if you are feeling tired, particularly after you have just completed a long-haul flight.
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