Driving in New Zealand

The network of roads and highways in New Zealand are excellent and meet high standards. All the roads, including ones in the rural areas, have signposts. It is important to remember that the people in New Zealand drive on the left.

You are permitted to drive in New Zealand with your home country license or an International Driver’s Permit. However, after one year, if you still plan to continue staying in New Zealand, you must obtain a driving license of that country. Every time you visit the country, you must apply for a fresh license if you are staying for more than a year.

Every driver in New Zealand must carry their driving licenses or international permits throughout. The legal age for renting a car or driving in New Zealand is 21 years. You must also carry your insurance certificate; vehicle registration documents and in some cases, your passport.

The driver’s license should not have expired and must have a photo ID. If the license is not printed in English, an English translation must be brought or obtained from the IDP. This translation can be obtained from several locations such as the New Zealand Translation Service, a diplomatic representative or the authority that issued your license. If you are caught without the English translation you risk being fine and may be prosecuted for driving without a proper license or without one at all. You can be taken to court and fined up to NZ$1,000.

The police have the authority to disallow a driver from driving without a proper license. If you still continue to drive, you are doing so at your own risk. If caught, your vehicle will be taken away for 28 days at your own expense. Also, if your car crashes in such an event, insurance might not cover you.

The speed limit in New Zealand varies. On open roads it is 100kph and in towns and cities it is 50kph. Most roads in the cities are dual carriageways. Seat belts are compulsory both at the front and back. Children under the age of five are not allowed to sit in the front and must be secured in a child safety seat or otherwise at the back. The drinking and driving laws in New Zealand are extremely strict. Therefore be careful of drinking any alcohol before driving.

If you really want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape, driving is your best option. The traffic is low and the roads are smooth, therefore driving becomes a pleasure. Even though New Zealand is small, it takes a really long time to drive between cities. Therefore you must make sure to take breaks in between and get enough rest. Fatigue accidents are common. If you are driving on the open roads, be careful as the roads are extremely narrow and the country has weather extremes.

With all these rules in mind, driving down the roads of New Zealand will definitely be a wonderful experience. The scenic landscapes and the beautiful greenery are sure to catch your eye as you zoom down the highway.

Read further about moving to New Zealand.