Safe Driving Tips

For The New Zealand Tourist

Safe driving tips elaborate on driving rules the New Zealand tourist needs to know for an independent travel while self-driving.

endless country road in Canterbury

Long distances, spread out natural sights, and plenty of areas ideal to explore on an independent travel while self driving, encouraged the tourism industry in New Zealand to provide for exactly that. There are plenty companies national and international that offer bicycle hiring, car, or motor home rentals. Following New Zealand travel you get some invaluable tips.

Before setting off to drive in another country it is crucial to learn about the driving regulations on age and existing road rules. They might differ to other places on the globe.

NEW! since March 2012.

When can I drive in New Zealand?

All overseas driver with a current and valid driver licence or driver permit, and older than eighteen years, have the legal right to drive for twelve months upon entry into NZ. For verification the driver licence is in English, translated by an authorised New Zealand translation provider, or an international driver licence.

In short:

  • The driver is older than 18
  • There has been no infringement resulting in a driving licence suspension
  • Entry to NZ was less than 12 months ago

After staying twelve months permanently in New Zealand, it is required to obtain a New Zealand driving permit. At the bottom of the page are links to helpful online resources.

Often self driving for younger drivers has some consequences.  Ace Rental Cars and other motor home rental companies have special terms and conditions in place for self driving age groups between 18 and 21 sometimes up to 25 years. They often regard excess limits in case of an accident or insurance fees.

Te PakiThe thumbnail leads to e-cards of amazing photos of NZ.

New Zealand Driving facts

A key ingredient for driving safely and great stress free vacations is; to know the difference between your country and New Zealand driving rules. Some safe driving tips in New Zealand demand attention from overseas visitors, as they are different.

  • The steering wheel on the right site helps to adjust driving left
  • Wearing a seat belt on front and back seats is obligatory
  • Approved car seats for children
  • Driving and drinking is strictly separated
  • Mobile are only mounted securely allowed to be used while driving, other than that it is illegal.
  • On open roads and motorways the speed limit is 100km/h. This speed might not always be safe therefore adjusting speed to road conditions is advisable.
  • Tempo adjustments occur often around villages, towns, and cities. Watch out for signs that indicate the maximum speed there.
  • Within villages, towns and cities the limit is 50km/h if not signed otherwise.
  • Around school zones the limit of 40km/h applies

Land Transport New Zealand covers the topic on safe driving tips more extensively.

Measured in kilometre, the time to cover a certain distance may often be underestimated. Road conditions are usually excellent but hilly and curve rich landscapes take their toll on the driving time. 

Roads meander peacefully through hills and valleys, sometimes wider sometimes narrower. Crossings on creeks can narrow down to one lane with Give Way regulation. Other times the sealed road changes into gravel. It is still in good condition but it slows traffic down due to width restriction and dust formation.

Newly changed driving rules in New Zealand

The left-turn versus right-turn rule

At uncontrolled T-intersections

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In case of an accident
  • Stop your car, give assistance
  • Dial 111 to ask for police assistance and an ambulance in serious situations
  • Detail exchange with opponent driver and or owner and witnesses
    • Names
    • Addresses
    • Phone numbers
    • registration details
    • car insurance specifications
  • Is the involved opponent uninsured, also identify:
    • Proof of name, passport number if possible
    • The car and licence number
    • Witnesses with contact details
    • Police Officer’s contact details

Bearing the safe driving tips in mind the New Zealand tourist can enjoy a stress free driving experience. 

As long as there is a choice, avoid peak traffic times in the morning and in the evening. This is naturally more important around bigger cities like Auckland City.

For in-depth reflection what means of transport could be right for your adventure vacations visit New Zealand travel.

Hei Matau, smoked
Further resources to safe driving tips
driving tests online
online road code

Did you know that a Hei-Matau pendant like that seen to the right, is said to protect travellers especially on long journey's over sea? It is traditional carved bone jewelry by the Maori people.

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