Driving is on the left with overtaking on the right. New Zealand has the same system of signs and road rules as you would find in the United Kingdom. The rules for giving way at intersections are slightly different to most countries and are as follows.
At an intersection you give way to vehicles crossing or coming from your right, or any traffic which is going straight along the road which you are turning into. You are forbidden to turn left at an intersection when the traffic lights are red. Do not try and overtake when you see a solid yellow line as this indicates that it is too dangerous to do so.
At one lane bridges you should look out for a sign which indicates right of way and give way to the vehicles which have right of way. One hazard to look out for are farm animals on the road, especially sheep. If you are driving at night be particularly vigilant. Driving in New Zealand can be tricky in the winter and signs will show you when conditions are slippery.
Consider renting some snow chains and tires at that time of year and also a four by four car. Care should also be taken on the country's gravel roads with your speed reduced accordingly.
Do not move your car, unless it is in a dangerous position which might lead to another accident, and wait for the police to arrive. You can call them on 199. In the meantime swap insurance information and addresses with the other driver. Don't argue with the police and be polite and patient. If you have a camera handy take pictures of the accident for police and insurance purposes. You should give a copy of the police report to your insurance company.
You must wear a seat belt no matter whether you are sitting in the front or the back. Children too young to fit seat belts should have child seats which we can rent to you for a minimal cost.
Motorways signs have a green background and white edges. Signs with a red background indicate orders which must be followed. Warning signs have a black border with orange inside. Information signs are in blue, brown and green with a white edge.
The price for 91 Octane is currently about $1.66 per litre, with diesel at £1.07 per litre. The price may vary from region to region in New Zealand.
New Zealand is very strict about drink driving with many prevention measures including regular breathalysing tests. The alcohol limit is 80 mg per 100 ml of blood but the best advice is not to drink and drive at all.
You need to have your home licence along with an international driving licence if your licence is not in English. Other documents which it is a good idea to have are your passport, some proof of insurance (including third party fire and liability insurance) and your vehicle registration information.
Yes, as long as it is in a Roman alphabet language. Otherwise you need an international driving licence.
- Highways – Arterial roads which go through New Zealand. Not to be confused with motorways.
- Logging Trucks – Carry timber and can be hazardous.
- Unsealed roads – Gravel roads.
- Level Crossings – At railway junctions.
- Dual use bridges – For both trains and cars. Make sure nothing is coming before you use!
- Slips – Small avalanches
- Centenial Highway – This road has gained a reputation as an accident blackspot.
- Drainage ditches – Can be covered with grass at the side of the road so take care not to fall into them.
There are toll roads including the Northern Gateway Toll Road which is one of the first electronically operated toll roads in the country.
- 50 kilometres per hour in built up areas unless signs say otherwise.
- 100 kilometres per hour on highways.
If you travel below the speed limit and are holding up other traffic you should move to the left to allow them to pass.
The conversion from kilometres to miles per hour is one kilometre = 0.62 miles per hour. Therefore the speed in built up areas is 31 miles per hour.
To drive in New Zealand you need to be at least 21 years old with a minimum of one year's driving experience, though some rental companies may charge you extra for being a young driver. Some rental companies have a maximum rental age of 70.
The emergency services number is 111. Land Transport New Zealand is a good source for driving help and advice and the number is 0800 822 422. That number is free if you are calling from New Zealand.
If you parallel park on the wrong side of the road your car can be towed away or you may get a steep fine. This rule does not apply on one way roads. In New Zealand you should not stop or park on broken yellow lines, clearways, bus stops, taxi stands or other restricted parking areas.