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Driving in New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful country, best appreciated by road.

Some road rules you need to know before attempting to drive on New Zealand roads include:

  • You must drive on the left hand side of the road.
  • When turning left, give way (yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right.
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. Green means go, and Orange means stop if you can do so safely.
  • The speed limit on the open road is 100 kilometres per hour (approx. 60 miles per hour).
  • The speed limit in urban areas is 50 kilometres per hour, unless otherwise signed.
  • If you are driving past a school during school hours, the speed limit is reduced to 40 kilometres per hour.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times, no matter which seat you are sitting in.
  • You must give way to pedestrians if they are crossing on a Pedestrian signal at traffic lights, or crossing on a Zebra crossing.
  • You must not stop on a Motorway.
  • You must carry your licence on you at all times when driving.

Other things to keep in mind include:

  • Drinking and driving is prohibited in New Zealand. You can find out more information on the ALAC website.
  • Distances are measured in kilometres, not miles in New Zealand.
  • Yellow speed signs in rural areas signify the safe speed to travel around the upcoming bend.

Motorcyclists and Cyclists

Here are some rules if you are biking around New Zealand:

  • You must wear a helmet at all times.
  • Front and rear lights must be working.
  • Standard driving rules and speed limits also apply to bikers.
  • It is illegal to cycle on a Motorway.
  • You are not allowed to bike on footpaths.
  • You must have a valid motorcycle licence to ride a motorcycle.

Driver's Licences

You must hold a valid drivers licence to drive on New Zealand roads.

If you have a current driver's licence from your home country, or an International Driving Permit (IDP), you are allowed to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months.

If you don't hold a current driver's licence you can apply for a New Zealand driver's licence. Find out more on the NZ Transport Agency website.