Exploring the beauty of New Zealand by car is an easy, popular and fun way to get around. But if you come from another part of the world you’ll need to do a little research before you arrive; to ensure your kiwi driving experience is as pleasant and stress free as possible. So to help you out with your planning, we’ve put together some important points to understand before you arrive in NZ.
New Zealand’s main roads are generally wide and well maintained, but in some areas they can be hilly, narrow or winding - especially in the more scenic areas. Despite being a small country, we have very few multi-lane highways and it may take you a while longer to travel the same distance as in your home country. This means you should allow plenty of time to enjoy the journey, and most importantly - take some photos!
To drive in New Zealand you must hold a valid driver's license in full English.
If your license is not in English it will need to be accompanied by an approved English translation or an international driver's license. However, we recommend carrying an international driver's license anyway to ensure there are no hiccups when you arrive.
In New Zealand we drive on the left side of the road.
If you’re used to driving on the right you'll need to think carefully about what you are doing, especially when pulling out at intersections. A handy tip to help you remember: the road center-line should always be at your right shoulder.
Generally the minimum age for car rental in New Zealand is 25, however there are some rental companies who make have a 'young driver' policy and allow rental to people aged 21 and up - ask us about this option if you have a young driver and we can recommend the best rental companies.
Young driver's must hold a full driving license (not provisional), and there may be an extra rental charge for the young driver.
Roads in New Zealand are generally very well-maintained, with clear and frequent signs that will greatly assist in your navigation.
In most parts of the country, driving conditions during winter are fairly similar to summer, however ensure that you are always aware of the road conditions before you head out for a drive.
Things like snow and black ice can become a hazard in parts of the country (especially further south) - drive with care and always carry snow chains (chains can be included with your rental vehicle if necessary, ask your travel agent if you are unsure whether you need them).
Any road closures or hazards due to inclement weather will generally be sign-posted. Road closures may sometimes affect your travel route so check with the NZTA (New Zealand Transit Agency) traffic alert page to find out if there are any road closures or hazards on your driving route.
Driving speeds in New Zealand are limited to 100 kilometres per hour on open roads. Maximum speed limits are signposted throughout the country - always be aware of the speed limit on the road you are driving and do not exceed that limit. New Zealand roads are well patrolled by the police force with speed cameras commonly being used. There is a very good change you will get caught if you speed so stay safe and respect the speed limits.